What began as a "simple" school talent quest in Kaitaia has evolved into an inspirational youth-led movement for hope.
Organiser Micah Tawhara said this week Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Pukemiro was prepared to dazzle a standing-room-only audience with the Far North's Got Talent 2016 on August 27.
Originally billed as a showcase of artistic expression for tamariki and a celebration of Matariki, the event had triggered a much deeper response from the community.
It was initially pitched as a fundraising platform where local youth could perform and learn various aspects of event management, but it had taken on a life of its own in response to negative publicity generated by national media.
"Kaitaia, and the wider Far North region, are in the midst of a crisis of confidence," Ms Tawhara said.
"We are combating issues, such as suicide, bullying and truancy, that are having a detrimental effect on our tamariki. Far North's Got Talent is an opportunity to change the message, to bring our community together and to redress the balance by sharing positive life stories and celebrating who we are."
Her sentiments were echoed by Kaitaia woman Naomi Austen-Reid's #ilovekaitaia' social media campaign and Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis, who has hit back at media branding of Kaitaia as New Zealand's murder capital.
Ms Tawhara said the Far North's Got Talent slogan - CYPHER 01 - spoke directly to youth.
"A cypher is a hip-hop term that represents a continuous beat and flow of a freestyle rap, while 01 can have infinite interpretation. It is essentially about uniting our communities, supporting each other as one whanau in harmony, and understanding that we only have one life so we need to look after it - and each other," she said. "This is about disrupting the paradigms that label our 'at-risk' or 'disadvantaged' youth," she said. "This is our chance to motivate and inspire - and the beauty of it is that our tamariki are leading the way."
The wider community had sponsored prizes, donated art to be auctioned and volunteered their help.
The divine Miss Kihi Ririnui and Pere Wihongi will be the MCs. The evening starts at 5pm with dinner and entertainment featuring Tai Tokerau DJ Battle 2015 winners Pierce Penewiripo and DJ Venom. The acts will be judged by 1814 drummer Shaun Colbert, vocalist Majic Paora, local session musician Tupu Campbell and Moana Creative/Te Hiku Youth Space director Carolyn Stott.
The show, which will be filmed for a documentary, will start at 6pm.
- The finalists are: Kees Cherrington (vocalist, Pap7arore School), Heaven-Leigh Makara (dancer, Kaitaia College), Caleb Cross (vocalist, Abundant Life School), Broadwood Area School band HKA, vocal duo Jackie-Lee Natana (Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Pukemiro) and Breeze Arano (Kaitaia College), Jedidiah Hita (vocalist, Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Rangi Aniwaniwa), drum duo Taikaha Harris-Manuel and Pierce Penewiripo (Kaitaia College), Tawiti Harrison (dancer, Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Pukemiro), Kapowairua Waitai (vocalist, Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Rangi Aniwaniwa), Te Rina Kahle (vocalist, Whangaroa College), and Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Pukemiro band The Boys.