Judges had a hard time picking the winners from seven Northland school participating in a well-attended Shakespeare festival at Kamo High School.

At least 100 students from Springbank School, Kaitaia College, Tauraroa Area School, Whangārei Boys High School, Whangārei Girls High School, Kamo High School, and Pompallier Catholic College took part in the annual event.

The University of Otago Sheilah Winn Shakespeare Festival was held at Kamo High School on Thursday.

Kaitaia College's Manaakitia Hoepo secured direct entry into the National School Shakespeare Performance to be held in October.

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Whangārei Girls High School performed the best five-minute play while Tauraroa students won the 15-minute play.

Both will represent Te Tai Tokerau in the national festival in Wellington at Queen's Birthday weekend.

Debi Walters-Brown, New Zealand Shakespeare Globe Centre Tai Tokerau co-ordinator, said the number of participants this year was probably the highest ever.

"We've had really good audience numbers, positive attitude from all schools that participated and it was very hard for the judges to pick the winners," she said.

The festival took place in 24 regions throughout New Zealand.

''What is really outstanding is that nationwide there were over 500 teams taking part this year. We've had more student-directed performances than before, too," Dawn Sanders, chief exective of Shakespeare Globe Centre NZ, said.

''It's a wonderful response considering Shakespeare isn't even in taught in schools now. It's very exciting.''

Student and Timekeeper Katelyn Stewart, left, and Jessie Bell, from Bellbird Speech and Drama, with the trophies for the winners. Photo / John Stone
Student and Timekeeper Katelyn Stewart, left, and Jessie Bell, from Bellbird Speech and Drama, with the trophies for the winners. Photo / John Stone
Tauraroa Area School students Darius Martin-Baker, left, and Sam Dutton performing in
Tauraroa Area School students Darius Martin-Baker, left, and Sam Dutton performing in "A Midsummer Night's Dream". Photo / John Stone
Isabella Sharipova-Williams, left, and Jeffrey Williams, from Kamo High School, performing in
Isabella Sharipova-Williams, left, and Jeffrey Williams, from Kamo High School, performing in "Othello". Photo / John Stone