Merlia De Ridder unintentionally made her dream come true.

The 15-year-old singer's mum wanted her to gain more audition experience so Merlia auditioned for a competition held in Los Angeles without knowing too much about it.

"When I got the email saying I'd got in I said 'what?' and read the whole thing like a million times.

"It's funny because ever since I was eight or so I've wanted to go to America to sing," she said.


On June 28 the Whangarei girl will head to Long Beach, California, as one of about 25 representing New Zealand in the World Championships of Performing Arts.

Te Rina Kahle of Kaeo, is off to the World Championships of Performing Arts in Hollywood.
Te Rina Kahle of Kaeo, is off to the World Championships of Performing Arts in Hollywood.

Also taking part in the competition from Northland is Kaeo teenager Te Rina Kahle.

Merlia said the competition is "like the Olympics but it's performing arts" and New Zealand's team is called the Black Stars.

"I could sing before I could talk.

"I did singing lessons when I was 12 and I sing mainly pop but I'm starting to sing classically now and I've been getting really into musical theatre."

The competition includes dance, music, drama and other performing arts.

Merlia is singing in three categories - jazz, classical and musical theatre - and will also be entering drama competitions.

"I love the feeling I get when I'm singing. It's my passion since I was little and I really enjoy it."


Like the Olympics there is an opening ceremony.

Merlia thought it would be cool to involve the community and asked The Design School Whangarei if they would make her a dress to wear in that ceremony.

The fashion design students were asked to come up with a design and Merlia chose her favourite which was one by 16-year-old Susie Williams.

"I'm really proud of it. It's kind of strange. I thought I'd be doing fashion design for ages before anyone wore my stuff. It's so cool."

Susie said it was April when she started designing the dress and it will be completed on Monday.

Merlia said in preparation for the competition she would be doing a lot of exercises she was taught by her singing teacher, but the day before performing she would be focusing on resting her voice.

Her next big dream is to sing professionally and she is hoping she will meet people at the competition who could help her achieve that.

Te Rina, 17, from Whangaroa College, hopes to break into the big time in Hollywood during her nine day trip.

Her mother, Varlo, said her family were "pretty proud" of her youngest of three children, and confident she would do well.