The national Showquest competition is kicking off tonight, with Northland schools being the first in New Zealand to showcase their talent on stage.

Jackie Clarke is one of three judges and she will be joined by Michael Knapp, and Tammi Butterworth.

Whangārei Girls' High School, Bream Bay College, Kerikeri High School, Dargaville High School and Onerahi Primary School have all entered tonight's competition - which replaced Stage Challenge - and will perform a choreographed showcase, with student made costumes and props.

Entries for primary schools opened late and Onerahi Primary School was the only Northland primary school who entered. One of the teachers in charge of Showquest at Onerahi Primary, Jess Burr, said it was a great opportunity.

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"We couldn't pass it up, the kids have been great and really risen to the challenge, we've only had four weeks to put it all together and everyone has been good at turning up to the practises," Burr said.

Rockquest Promotions, which has 30 years of success with the country's only live, nationwide school music contest, won the contract from the Ministry of Education earlier this year for a dance and music performance event for schools.

The event in Northland is a collaboration with local performing arts group Art In Motion, started by two Whangārei dancers.

Art in Motion was formed by 19-year-old creatives Jayden Rudolph and Teale Vint to replace Stage Challenge, when it was announced it would be canned.

"Teale and I were heavily involved with Stage Challenge right throughout secondary school and so we collectively decided we would create Art in Motion, it was just for Northland originally then we moved to Tauranga and Auckland," Rudolph said.

"Then Showquest came along and we decided we'd work with them, there were only four people in our team and we weren't that good with stage management or production management, so now it's a great collaborative sort of thing," he said.

Because of this Northland had a head start, said Showquest event director Matt Ealand.

"Jayden and Teale jumped in really quickly so while [Northland] schools haven't had as much time as they normally would, they've had a lot of time the rest of the country hasn't, so they are ahead of the game in that regard which is great for the Northland area," he said.

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Ealand said teams will be judged overall on their performance, soundtrack, costuming, choreography, and theme.

Showquest Northland will be held at Whangārei's Forum North tonight from 7pm.

Showquest will be staged in Northland, Dunedin, Christchurch, Nelson, Wellington, Hawke's Bay, Rotorua, Hamilton, New Plymouth and Auckland. A national online final will name the top entry nationwide in September.