It was a tough choice for the judges, but the finalists for the Matariki Star Search have been announced.

The successful performers will compete for prize vouchers at the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre on July 19.

The 13 finalists include singers, dancers and cultural performers.

Te Aroha Rangi, of Rotorua Library, which initiated the event, said this year's competition had been more popular than last year, with 55 young people or groups entering.

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That was nearly twice the 26 entries at last year's inaugural competition.

"There were so many in the singing category. I think the judges found it hard to decide," Ms Rangi said.

The number of auditions this year rose from two to three, as did the number of categories.

The competition, for 8 to 18-year-olds, had categories for singing, dancing and nga mahi a rehia o te ao (global performing arts).

The competition is organised by the library and education trust Nga Pumanawa e Waru.

Mercia-Dawn Yates from Nga Pumanawa e Waru, who served as one of the judges, said deciding on finalists was not easy.

Finalists Ahipukahu Edmonds, Te Ahu Paenga and Ngarangi Mihi. Photo/Supplied
Finalists Ahipukahu Edmonds, Te Ahu Paenga and Ngarangi Mihi. Photo/Supplied

"It's been a difficult competition. We had quite a young group of entries this year so we had to be quite mindful when judging of the exposure they would be getting as they had to be able to do major events."

Last year's winner, Promise Royal, has sung at number of major events since, including the Rotorua Hospitality Awards.

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Auditions for this year's star search were held over four nights at Rotorua Library and the night markets in June.

The last three auditions were open to the public - more than 100 people attended the final audition to watch 20 contestants perform.

There were a number of video entries as well as in-person auditions.

Prizes for final winners in each category were $1000 Noel Leeming gift vouchers for winners and $500 vouchers for runners-up. There was also a people's choice prize of $250.

All prizes were donated by the Rotorua Lakes Council's Creative Arts.

An additional five acts will perform at the final - those who didn't quite make it as finalists.

There has been plenty of interest in attending the final, which Tamati Coffey will MC.

Tickets are available from the library reception or Nga Pumanawa e Waru for free, but numbers are limited.

Finalists
Dance
Emmaleah Dender, 10, Malfroy School
Poppy Langdon, 10, Kawaha Point School
Jade Moller, 8, St Mary's School
Madelyn Skilton, 18, home-schooled

Singing
Paretoroa Webster, 12, Rotorua Intermediate School
Hemi Curtis, 12, Rotorua Intermediate School
Christian Te Whare, 15, and Kahu Durie, 15, Rotorua Girls' High School
Waitahi McGee, 16, Reporoa College
Wildcard: Te Waikura Witoko, 16, Te Maru, Western Heights' High School

Nga mahi a Rehia o te Ao
Ahipukahu Edmonds, 10, Te Ahu Paenga, 8, TKKM o Ruamata and Ngarangi Mihi, 11, Rotorua Primary School
Ruaeo Te Moni, 11, Te Wharekura o Ngati Rongomai
Meihana McGee, 14, Reporoa College
Te Pumunawa Rogers, 10, TKKM o te Koutu