She may be New Zealand's newest Popstar and $100,000 richer, but one of Christabel Williams' favourite pastimes is spending time with family in Northland.
Christabel took out the title at Wednesday night's finale of the Popstars series which rebooted in April after debuting here more than 20 years ago.
The 20-year-old, with the unique and soulful voice, was a strong contender from the get-go and the first audition TV audiences saw when they tuned into the revamped series with judging panellists singer/songwriter Kimbra, Zed frontman Nathan King and R&B/pop recording artist Vince Harder.
Although from Auckland, Christabel's family hail from Northland, where she has spent nearly every summer camping. Her father Michael, who she visits regularly, resides in Whangārei for work. Yesterday, he spoke to the Northern Advocate, having returned from the finale show in Auckland the night before.
"It was awesome," he said. "It was an atmosphere of suspense and nobody knew who was going to win. Although I had a lot of confidence that Christabel was going to win, it was still a big shock. I'm very proud of her."
For Christabel, it was a tumultuous ride to the finals - she faced disappointment and technical difficulties during some of her performances and was the only contestant in the top four who didn't receive a Gold Pass. But Christabel, who candidly disclosed to the panel that she has severe ADHD, channelled that energy into subsequent performances that cemented her place as the winner.
Said Kimbra: "Christabel is an artist who shows the power of vulnerability when channelled into art; she is a writer of anthems that reach deep into the human heart."
Still on a high from the announcement, Christabel said, "Oh my god, I actually did it! I'm elated and ecstatic to have won Popstars and am so grateful for the opportunity. It came around just when I needed it, and to be standing here now is surreal.
"I'm really proud of the fact that I can overcome things. I've literally just proved to myself, and everyone who doubted me, that I can do this, you know, so I hope it helps them."
She said that watching it all back had been up and down and very 'rollercoastery', but self-soothing at the same time.
"I'm just blessed. I feel so proud of everyone else as well, they've come so far. Now, I can put all my focus into my music and what I want to release," she added.
The finalists released their new singles last week with Christabel's single If You Ain't Looking already hitting number one on the iTunes charts.
Michael said Christabel had written a few songs aged six and played the ukulele as a kid.
"She has her own distinctive sound and that has evolved over the years. She's just always been a creative spirit in all areas."
He said she had two musical cousins in Northland and her grandmother was a concert pianist but hadn't inherited her singing genes from her father - "don't ask me to sing".
The Williams, whose family come from Pakaraka, near Kerikeri, have spent summers camping in favourite spots Whatuwhiwhi, Opononi and Whananaki since Christabel was a baby with Michael saying she has fond memories of Opononi in particular.
He said she regularly visits him in Whangārei and loves catching up with her Northland family.
"She was last up here a couple of weeks ago. I'm hoping she'll come up and visit me soon."
Following the announcement on Wednesday night, the family and friends celebrated with Christabel at Auckland's Viaduct. After celebrating, Christabel said her first priority was catching up on sleep but from there she wants to hit the ground running with her next releases.
"I mean, there are plans, but I don't know what to do first! Basically, I have to decide. I'm very indecisive," she laughed.
The final six included 20-year-old Northlander Avya Grace Trotter of Mangawhai before it was whittled down to rapper TJ Zimba, 21, Skye Hine, 16, the female trio A.R.T. and Christabel.
New Zealand kicked off the first series of Popstars in 1999 documenting the establishment of a five-piece girl group True Bliss. From there began the Popstars reality TV series format selling to over 50 countries and inspiring the Idol franchise. Over 20 years later, New Zealand debuted its second series of Popstars, albeit revamped, this year.