Named after the Queen of Jazz, Ella Fitzgerald herself, it was only right that Ella Monnery would end up on a stage.
With her parents cranking soulful jazz and RnB along with healthy portions of Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston, Ella's music taste developed from a young age into a love of "old school funky, groovy music".
At just 25 years of age Ella's rich and soulful vocals along with her energetic stage presence have made her a powerhouse on the New Zealand music scene.
"My parents were always listening to music and had it playing around the house when I was growing up.
"They were into soul, jazz, disco, RnB - anything like that.
"We listened to a lot of Michael Jackson and Aretha Franklin and Whitney Houston, who is now one of my biggest inspirations."
Never afraid to be the centre of attention, Ella loved watching The Wiggles and Hi-5 - anything she could sing and dance to.
"I would sing and dance along to the music from a young age and was signed up for dance classes from the age of 6 for a bit of a laugh.
"I loved being the centre of attention, I loved being on the stage and would always be asking, 'Does anyone want to hear a song, does anyone want to see me dance?' taking any chance I could get to perform."
Growing up in Waikanae Beach, Ella loved the small-town vibe.
"Literally my whole childhood was in Waikanae. It was all you could ever want.
"We had the river, the beach, the dairy, the fish and chip shop and skate park - that's all you needed.
"It was such an awesome childhood, living in a small town where everyone knows everyone.
"My whole life was in Waikanae until I got told we were moving to the city."
Distraught at the idea, it was the promise of getting a television in her bedroom that convinced Ella to move from her beloved Waikanae Beach to Wellington City.
Moving to a new school, Ella continued with lessons, doing talent shows and performances here and there, but still not taking it too seriously.
But when she started being offered more solos and getting picked for showcases, Ella and her family started to realise there was something there.
"As I got older it was like 'hang on you're actually pretty good at this' and we started to take it seriously."
When it came time for her to leave school, Ella knew that all she wanted to do was sing, but instead signed up for a business degree at Massey University.
Only lasting two days, Ella returned home on the second day and told her parents she couldn't do it.
Going home and Googling singing schools in Wellington, Ella instead signed up for a Bachelor of Applied Arts at Whitireia.
Since finishing her degree, Ella has established quite a resume.
Being a regular at Christmas in the Park since 2018, Ella performed on a cruise ship around Asia for nine months in 2019.
Returning home to New Zealand and in Ella's words 'home to real, normal and civilised life,' Ella spent a month at home in Wellington before packing her bags and heading to Auckland in search of performance and collaboration opportunities.
Ever since then she has been putting herself out there to get work, meeting different people in the industry before being scouted by The Voice Australia.
"Back then when you could get on a plane and travel when it was easy, they said they'd just put me over for the weekend to hear me sing.
"I auditioned and that led to the first time I went on the show before it was disrupted by Covid-19."
Flying over, filming and then coming home in between the rounds, Ella was in New Zealand when Covid-19 hit in March 2020 and eventually had to pull out of the show.
She then returned to Australia and started from scratch on the show last year.
"Looking back, I'm just glad I got to do the show again and do the show when it wasn't so impacted by Covid-19.
"It was very surreal going back a second time more aware of how reality television works. I feel so fulfilled with going back."
Making it all the way through to the semi-finals before being eliminated, Ella has since toured alongside some of Aotearoa's top musical acts, including P-Money, Sola Rosa, and has been headlining for Synthony, a musical fusion of electronic dance music, live orchestra, DJs, vocalists and an immersive visual display.
"Synthony is hands down my favourite show I've ever done.
"It's helped point me in a direction that I really want to go in.
"With house music, a lot of the time it samples older disco music so I guess before I did Synthony I never really would have thought about that style."
Living the dream before Covid-19, Ella said, "I was singing, I was travelling, I was getting paid to do what I love and making a living from it, but the past two years have been out of my control.
"I just want to get back onto those big stages in New Zealand, like Rhythm and Vines and Homegrown, the biggest and the best in New Zealand and be where all our most well-known acts are."
Q+A with Ella Monnery
Favourite memory of Kāpiti? Growing up in such a small town where everyone knows everyone.
Describe your musical style...Powerhouse, dance and electric.
Who are your musical influences? Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Celine Dion.
Favourite place to eat? Anywhere that has hot chips.
Favourite thing to do growing up in Kāpiti? Hang out with friends and go to the beach, park or river.
Who would you most like to have coffee with? Whitney Houston.
Tip you would give to young aspiring singers/performers? Believe in yourself and your talent.
Who would you like to collaborate with? Calvin Harris because he makes massive dance beats.
What is your pre-show ritual? Make sure I get a good sleep the night before, warm up, lots of water.
How often do you return to Kāpiti? Pretty often - my grandparents still live there so I try and visit them whenever I'm in Wellington.
- This story was first published in the Celebrating Kāpiti autumn/winter magazine.