Cantabrians dominate X Factor
Four weeks in and Canterbury can still lay claim to having the X Factor as each of our acts again escape elimination.
With last night's double elimination showdown, it seemed inevitable we would finally lose one of our stars - made up of popular boy band Moorhouse, Leeston rocker Tom Batchelor, Rangi Ruru schoolgirl Cassie Henderson and soul powerhouse Whenua Patuwai.
However, each again skated through without even a glimpse at the bottom two, and the Canterbury acts now account for half of the show's talent pool.
Cassie, who at 14 is the youngest in the show, said she was ''pretty nervous'' before yesterday's elimination.
Her performance earned her a mild lambasting from the judges for poor song choice, and an uneasy live showdown between her mentor, Daniel Bedingfield, and rival judge Melanie Blatt.
Cassie said the negative feedback was beginning to get to her.
''Last night I started looking for the bad comments and searching for them online. It was the first time I was really looking for them,'' she said.
''It's pretty disheartening.''
However, the teenager rejected the idea she may be too young for the competition.
''Everyone's really nice and they look after me. There are a lot of opinions; I just have to find me,'' she said.
Batchelor, who had the judges praising him after his rendition of Nina Simone's Feeling Good, had been battling a ''massive chest infection'' when he gave one of the best performances of his X Factor career.
Loaded up on antibiotics, Batchelor said he was ''feeling a bit better'' before last night's elimination, and had settled into the competition he initially entered after losing a bet.
''It's going really well,'' he said.
''But I'm quite surprised that I'm still here, to be honest.''
After a brief stint in the bottom two last week, Bedingfield dubbed Sunday's show ''the return of Moorhouse'' after the group's spirited take on the Temptation's Ain't Too Proud to Beg.
''We're doing really well; we've bounced back,'' band member Marley Sola Wilcox-Nanai said.
''We realised that we're not just singing for ourselves.''
The group recorded a tribute to 15-year-old Stephen Dudley, who died in a fight after rugby practice in Auckland, in their hotel room on Saturday.
Member Brock Ashby put down the region's strong representation on the show to altered mindsets after the earthquakes. ''We're all hard-working and focused on doing what we do while we're going through bad stuff.''
Eighteen-year-old Patuwai was under more pressure than usual for soul week on Sunday as he had been associated with the genre early in the competition.
''People sort of expect a lot from me. It's quite hard preparing a song each week because you've got to have that song and pull it off. This week was particularly hard,'' he said.
Greymouth native Jackie Thomas, a series standout from the get-go, is also still vying for the X Factor crown.
With the South Island contingent of the competition now accounting for five out of eight acts, the final three may be a southern affair.