By SCOTT MacLEOD
A young singer stole the show at Auckland's biggest Christmas party at the weekend.
Despite being only 12, Palmerston North boy Theo Va'a has been singing for 10 years and has written more than 15 songs.
At Coca-Cola Christmas in the Park on Saturday night, Theo seemed undaunted as he took the stage.
The young singer, dancer, entertainer, songwriter and professional model opened the Auckland Domain show with Lapi Mariner, singing Shackles.
Later he tackled Santa Claus is Coming to Town, solo.
Concert-goer Nicole Roughan, 21, described the young performer as "fantastic, a star, a scene stealer".
Another bystander thought he was "the next Michael Jackson".
Theo would have been happy, since Jackson is one of his favourite artists.
Auckland's fickle weather gods blessed the 10th annual bash by opting to withhold the buckets of rain that doused the crowd two years ago.
Instead, fans of Nesian Mystik and Zed were able to chant, sway and sing in nothing damper than a light sheen of sweat during the muggy evening.
Other entertainers included Suzy Cato, Jackie Clarke, Jeremy Corbett and Petra Bagust.
The show was capped by a fireworks display after 10pm.
Members of the well-behaved crowd - estimated at some 100,000 - then dispersed happily into the night, where they were jolted back to reality by the usual traffic snarls. Inspector David Montgomery of the police northern communications centre said there were no reports of bad behaviour.
Christmas in the Park has raised over $1 million for charities such as Youthline, with cash coming from selling items such as programmes, glowing light-sticks and santa hats.
Publicist Deborah Delaney said the amount collected was still being counted late yesterday.