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On song . . . Oamaru Intermediate School band O'Nesians (back row, from left) Pua Puatei, Illaisaane Silakavai, (middle, from left) Lesieli Halalele, Kenny Manaia, Ayin Esela, Kalesita Kaufana, Sharifa Tauaa, (front, from left) Viliami Ala, Isaac Siliga, Maiele Paia, and Hiliako Iaheto ex celled in the Otago Rockshop Bandquest Contest. PHOTO: SUP PLIED

An Oamaru Intermediate School band formed just a few weeks ago triumphed at a major competition last Friday.

The O’Nesians travelled to Mosgiel as the school’s inaugural entry in the Otago Rockshop Bandquest contest. Principal Mary Healey envisaged it as a “first-time experience”, but it became much more.

Competing against 14 other bands, the O’Nesians won the award for best vocalists and were placed second overall.

“They did fantastically well,” Mrs Healey said.

“I’m very, very proud of them.”

It was a long day for the Oamaru contingent. The competition had finished at about 9.30pm but the pupils were so excited by their success that they did not want to disband and go their separate ways home, she said.

“They were humming.”

The initiative arose from the 15-week Talanga ‘a Waitaki PowerUp Flexi Plus programme that provides educational support for Pasifika families at Oamaru Intermediate.

PowerUp co-ordinator Hana Halalele said it was a collaborative effort, with “wonderful support” from Talanga ‘a Waitaki Hub facilitator Maiele Paia, Mrs Healey, teacher Harriet McGowan, Dunedin music tutor Hiliako Iaheto, and volunteer Isaac Siliga.

“The kids practised intensively for a short number of weeks and performed two songs last Friday,” Mrs Halalele said.

“Interestingly, some students had only learnt to play their instruments in a matter of weeks, learnt to sing one of their songs in Tongan, and band gear was borrowed from around the region to ensure the students didn’t miss out on the opportunity.

“It was an amazing opportunity for our kids from Oamaru to attend something out of their comfort zone, perform in front of at least 200 people and grow in confidence from the experience.”

The O’Nesians performed the Adam Levine song Locked Awayand Spawnbreezie’s Fangai Lupe

Mrs Halalele said they “brought something different to the contest” as the only band with a Pacific reggae song.

“We are very proud of the students who were really dedicated to practices, and throughout the journey developed really good friendships and gained more confidence in themselves and their abilities.

“They would like to continue their band and need some equipment, given all of it was borrowed. They hope to purchase something for the school as part of their winning prize pack worth $200 – vouchers from the Rockshop, Dunedin.”

Mrs Healey also acknowledged the effort the pupils had put in to their rehearsals.

“I take my hat off to them . . . They worked really, really well together.”

She wanted to continue Oamaru Intermediate’s involvement in Bandquest.

“My intention is to look for a tutor so we can run a programme. We could have more than one band.”

It would require plenty of support from staff and parents, Mrs Healey said.

She was grateful to the Oamaru Pasifika community’s backing to make the pupils’ dream a reality.