Whakaaro Tahi Community Trust music tutors Jane Hillier and Eli Moore, and a group of music students from Kaitaia's Pompallier School, attracted a much bigger audience than usual when their performance at mass at St Joseph's Catholic Church was broadcast on National Shine TV, Bishop Dunn (Auckland) saying more than 15,000 viewers tuned in.
Covid-19 restrictions, particularly in Auckland, have drastically reduced mass congregations, leading to parishes outside Auckland being invited to have their Sunday services televised.
The parish priest at Saint Joseph's in Kaitaia, Father Larry Rustia, had already presented one televised mass last month, and this time students at the local Catholic school were encouraged to join in.
"Despite having only a few music lessons under their belts, they jumped at the opportunity," Sharyn van Heerden said.
"The small congregation contributed in the singing of several other hymns and responses throughout the mass, assisted by tutors Jane Hillier, on Celtic Harp, and Eli Moore on the organ."
"It is truly an exhilarating experience to be creating music with these young and talented students, who, as well as learning to play music in time, can also sing so well," Jane said.
"I think they are very brave indeed."
The Whakaaro Tahi Community Trust had only recently begun offering music tuition at Pompallier School. Twelve students were learning the guitar, violin, keyboard and cello, and were enjoying playing a range of pieces and songs, from Beethoven's Ode to Joy, himene and waiata to the more recent hit from Six60, 'The Greatest.'
The trust was delighted to welcome Eli as a member of the team of tutors. With a degree in music from Auckland University, and recently back in Kaitaia after several years performing on cruise ships, he has crafted an impressive record as a singer/songwriter, with songs and albums on Spotify, and has been chosen by Creative New Zealand as one of only nine songwriters in New Zealand to work on the Audience song-writing promotion that is currently under way.
"We are looking forward to hearing his composition," Sharyn said.
"Eli is a huge inspiration for our young and promising musicians, and an asset to the Whakaaro Tahi Community Trust's music programme.
"Our heartfelt thanks to Father Larry for his enthusiasm and faith in us all, and also for his beautiful tenor vocals, which have certainly been the glue in the broadcasts and a constant professional joy for us all in our several weekly masses," she added.
"Also our thanks go to the acting principal at Pompallier, Mrs Joanne Ryken, for welcoming the trust into her school and for her continuing help and support.
"Finally, the trust is grateful for the multitude of opportunities and experiences we have to teach and learn music, in all its forms, in the various schools and communities where we currently teach. We appreciate hearing how music has changed our students' thoughts, their lives and their hearts.
"Performances like Sunday's mass lift the trust's profile in the community, and this helps us obtain the necessary funding to continue providing this priceless music programme and equipment in our Far North communities and schools."
The trust is funded by NZ Lotteries, Pub Charity, Four Winds, Foundation North, Lions Mangonui, Hugo, Mazda, the Ashton Wylie Trust and COGS.