Rotorua school girl Nikau Grace Chater has a singing voice like no other. And the reason for her ability to quickly learn songs may surprise some. Journalist Kelly Makiha reports.
While most 12-year-olds spent lockdown at home on devices, baking with their parents and rediscovering their push bikes, Rotorua school pupil Nikau Grace Chater was working on her dream.
Nikau wants to make it in the music industry - and not just be a great Kiwi singer. She wants to "really make it", like Lorde and Six60.
So every day in lockdown she was in her room learning almost a new song a day, recording her songs, mastering harmonies, writing songs and going live on Facebook to build her performance confidence.
And she gathered quite the following. Comments on her Facebook page included people saying they looked forward to her daily posts and others saying her singing made them appreciate those in their bubble.
She also entered Lockdown's Got Talent, a voting-based online competition that has entries from all over New Zealand.
As of yesterday , Nikau was coming first, an incredible feat considering the page has 80,000 followers and the competition has attracted some incredible singers.
Voting ends on May 30 and Nikau is hoping to clock up a few more votes in the meantime for her rendition of Yebba's Evergreen.
"I chose that song as I like the story behind it and love singing it."
She said she's met some awesome people online through the competition.
"I feel really privileged to get the support I have had so far through people liking, commenting and sharing my entry."
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Despite not having a real audience, Nikau thinks she has come out of lockdown a better performer.
"It gave me something to work towards and focus on every day, especially in the beginning when we didn't know much about Covid-19 and how long lockdown would be.
"I have been challenged by doing songs I wouldn't normally do from requests people have sent in."
Tonights Lockdown song is for my friends Nikita, Kayti, and Kyla whose Dad, Luke Tamatea was killed in Afghanistan. I know you never forget, but ANZAC is a time that we all remember - Here is Memories by Maroon 5, covered by Nikau Grace.Posted by Nikau Grace Chater on Friday, 24 April 2020
Her initial aim was to post a song a day but it got more difficult when some songs were harder to learn than others, also when home-based school kicked in, she said.
Nikau's mother, Rachel Chater, said her daughter's ability to learn a song so quickly blew her away and was possibly because she had always had to rely on her memory because she had dyslexia.
"She can do a full three-hour set with no lyrics and listen to a song once and almost know it."
Nikau, who lives in Kawerau with her family but boards four nights a week in Rotorua to allow her to go to school here, was now back in the swing of schoolwork.
She said despite loving being with her friends and preparing to get ready for her upcoming netball season, she would never forget her special time in lockdown.
• To like and vote for Nikau, go to https://www.facebook.com/Lockdownsgottalent/videos/2865384336884184/