There's an old saying in show business. Never work with children or animals.
But for the musical director of the production of Moana Jr currently on show at Levin Performing Arts Society, he wouldn't have it any other way.
Ria Saili is one of those people who has a natural rapport with children. It made the 27-year-old a perfect fit for the directing team behind Moana Jr, working with a large cast made up entirely of young performers.
"I suppose it's because I'm just a big kid myself," he said.
Being involved in theatre was an enriching experience that he wanted to impart on as many youngsters as he could.
"A lot of people don't realise how good it feels to be on stage, and that's been the best thing about Moana - seeing that," he said.
Saili had been on stage himself plenty of times - he was brilliant as the dancing Danny Zuko in Grease - and he was getting the same "buzz" from seeing young performers get the same kick out of performing.
"It's a passion. It's awesome. It's what I like doing," he said.
Saili said he wouldn't have got involved in the performing arts but for a push he got as a youngster from a friend in 2016.
"Otherwise I wouldn't have known any of this," he said.
"Sometimes kids can be too shy when it comes to acting. But then you see them singing at Polyfest and it comes naturally. You think it's different, but it's just the same.
"The smiles on people's faces and the clapping are just the same. It's all the same."
LAPS secretary Lorraine Lepper said she had never seen a show where the cast were so eager to turn up.
"We said arrive at six o'clock but some are already there at 5.30pm. So I've started going down early to let them in. You can tell how keen they are. There's no worries about anybody turning up on time," she said.
Lepper said it was also pleasing to see so many Māori and Pacific Island children becoming involved in the 50-strong cast, with Moana the catalyst for an influx of new talent.
"It's just so good to see. Long may it continue," she said.
"It's just so good to see that participation and the parents supporting them to come along ... it needs that support. It's the parents that have to work around other commitments."
Moana Jr showings started at the weekend and were the culmination of months of rehearsals. Show nights coincided with school holidays, which was good timing and no mistake.
The show itself was just another entertaining offering from LAPS. Great music, lighting, singing and dancing from a cast that give it 100 per cent.
It was directed by Stephanie Greenslade, herself an accomplished stage performer. It was her second show as lead director. The choreography director was Caitlyn Sanson.
Meanwhile, there were brilliant performances from the young cast that brought characters to life with some strong vocal performances.
Angelina Toeleiu (Moana), Phillip Finau (Maui), Taniela Taufeulungaki (Chief Tui), Bostyn O'Brien (Pua), Kaydence Mose Tuialii (Gramma Tala), Tiana Fryer (Te Fiti/Te Kā), Najaeda Whaitiri (Hei Hei), Rikayah Wiparata (Sina), and Katerina Finau (Tamatoa) were the main cast.