Photo / Warren Buckland
When Flaxmere's Mahinarangi Maddison Paige Lawrence was 12, she had the dream of performing in front of thousands.
Fast-forward eight years and Mahinarangi, known as Mahina to her friends and family, is a week away from potentially fulfilling her dream.
New Zealand's largest urban contemporary radio network, Mai FM, has teamed up with reggae band Tomorrow People in the attempt to find a new female singer.
The "Sing Your Way To Homegrown" competition will see one lucky person will perform on stage with Tomorrow People at Homegrown 2020, one of New Zealand's biggest music festivals, before joining the band for a nationwide tour and work on their 5th studio album.
The 20-year-old from Flaxmere came across the competition and knew right away she "had to give it a go."
"They said the lead female singer was on maternity leave, so they are on the lookout for a new female lead singer'" she said. "I auditioned and sent in a video and they seem to really like it.
"Hundreds of girls auditioned and they narrowed it down to 10 and now five, which I am lucky enough to be included in."
Homegrown Music Festival, which has been held annually in Wellington since 2008, showcases artists from across the country in front of thousands.
"I have done my research on the festival and there are all different types of music at Homegrown. Getting to perform at a four-day event, doing something that I truly love would be amazing.
"Meeting new artists and performers, who maybe I could link up with in the future really caught my eye and made me want to audition."
Mahina, who works as a quality control worker at McCain, said she loves her job but after an agonisingly close call to becoming Disney's Moana, feels she needs to "show off my talent to the world".
"I was lucky enough to get down to the top five to become Moana when I was 15, 16. I flew to Auckland three times to meet with producers and so on.
"In the end, I didn't get it but it was an amazing experience. They loved my voice and the person I was, but my acting wasn't quite there."
Tomorrow People, who released their debut album ONE in 2012, are no strangers to band personnel changes; 15 members have departed over the past nine years.
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The seven-piece band has since released three further albums. Their most recent EP, BBQ REGGAE, debuted at number one in New Zealand.
Mahina added: "The band is great, I love their stuff. They are the only real reggae group I would chose to listen to."
Mahinarangi mother, Ruth Lawrence, said she couldn't be prouder, describing her daughter as "our shining star".
"She is the most down to earth, kind-hearted and talented human that I have ever had the privilege to come into contact with," she said. "To say we are proud of her is a gross understatement.
"From a young age, Mahina's father knew she had a gift for singing. She would break into song and mesmerise our minds and souls with the beautiful sounds coming from her vocal instrument.
Ruth added: "We are her fans, we are her groupies and we can probably be her worst nightmare at times too. We just adore and love her."
Mahina will be nervously awaiting the outcome of the public vote to find out her fate by Wednesday, December 18, but remains quietly confident.
"The voting on the Mai FM site ends on Monday. I've seen the other videos and am confident in myself, but also confident in everyone else.
"Whatever the outcome, I am happy that I have put myself out there."