Being the son of well-known Rotorua musos, it's no surprise teenager Hohaia Macfarlane can hold a tune.

But when he opens his mouth and expertly belts out an opera number, it's not really what you'd expect.

The 17-year-old self-confessed perfectionist, who is this year's Rotorua Boys' High School head boy, will debut his talents to the city when he walks out on stage at next month's Lakeside 2018 concert.

The show, called Whenua #itsabouthome, will feature homegrown talent - and there's few more homegrown than Hohaia.


He is the son of musicians Bruce and Leah Macfarlane - a couple who have decades of performing behind them.

"I grew up watching them at the Cobb & Co and Pheasant Plucker."

He said his parents always knew he could sing and encouraged him not to waste his talents.

At school he joined the champion Raukura kapa haka group where his vocal ability quickly shone.

His tutor, Kimiora Webster, told him given he could sing so well, he didn't have to go to choir practice like some of the other boys.

But the school's music teacher, Elisha Hulton, asked him if he wanted to do some lessons.

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When she asked what he wanted to sing, his response was surprising.

"I said opera because if you can sing opera, you can sing anything. I didn't just want to sing Uptown Funk or something like that that everyone can sing along to. I didn't want to be able to just sing a song, I wanted people to sit there and go 'yeah woah'."

So like everything Hohaia does, he's given his singing 100 per cent commitment, so much so his abilities have seen him selected to perform on the prestigious Lakeside stage.

Hulton described Hohaia as an "exceptionally talented young singer".

"He is also a very hard working, insightful and wonderful student to work with. This past year, Hohaia's interest in classical music has led him on a journey, to learning the craft and discipline of classical singing. Through this, he has strengthened in skill, confidence and musicianship, to becoming the young beautiful sounding tenor you will see and hear at the 2018 Rotorua Lakeside concert."

She said Hohaia had been strongly supported by the school's music head of department Cameron Hay as well as principal Chris Grinter and they were all proud he would be gracing the Lakeside stage.

Hohaia also excels in other areas, including te reo Maori.

"I started taking it seriously in level one. I was never fluent in te reo and never grew up around te reo so I wanted to teach myself. I thought that it was stupid that I am Maori but I don't speak it. Dogs can bark and birds can chirp but I was Maori and didn't know my language."

Being named head boy came somewhat as a surprise.

"I was a bit stunned. Some people might have thought I'd get it but I knew there were heaps of others with the capabilities too. When I got it, I was stoked."

The humble youngster puts his leadership skills down to simple hard work.

"I have a relentless pursuit of excellence. I'm always striving for the end goal. That's pretty much my thing while always trying to stay humble."

And while this talented young man has many strings to his bow, his end goal has nothing to do with kapa haka, te reo or singing.

He wants to put his leadership skills into the New Zealand Army and be a soldier.

"I want to go overseas, go to Iraq and Afghanistan. I don't just want to live an ordinary life ... I want a job I can get a real adrenaline rush from.

"If you go overseas and you can make a difference to a village under attack, that's what I want to do. It's one thing to make people happy through singing but it's another thing to make people happy by saving lives."

Lakeside 2018 - Whenua #itsabouthome
* Saturday February 17, Rotorua Village Green from 7pm
* Featuring host Stacey Morrison, Moana Maniapoto performing as Moana and the Tribe, Maimoa featuring Turanga Merito, Modern Maori Quartet, Alayna Powley, Strangely Arousing plus many more
* Free open air concert but seats up the front can be bought for $40 from Ticketmaster