The inaugural concert was part of the Rotorua Daily Post Christmas Appeal. Supported by The Hits Rotorua 97.5FM, the appeal runs until December 23 and aims to collect donations of food and money to help fill the foodbank’s shelves and assist the Salvation Army with its work through the Christmas period and into 2024.
In 2022, the appeal raised $76,500 worth of donations as the soaring cost of living forced some people out of their homes and pushed others to their financial limits.
This year, the appeal hopes to raise even more, lending a hand to those turning to the foodbank for help, including people with jobs and mortgages struggling to feed their families.
Dance choreographer Sam Patangan said the purpose of the concert made the night “even more special” for him and his hip-hop dance group Sayawan.
Patangan put the group together in the last week via Instagram. Members from Western Heights High School and Rotorua Girls’ High School practised for two hours a day for four days to prepare for their performance.
Patangan said the dance was “a total icebreaker”.
“We’re from two different schools and we compete in school comps against each other.
“I feel like today we definitely proved that we can dance as one group. We cut out the rivalry and we’re very happy with our performance.”
Participants from Rotorua’s Accelerando Programme performed multiple Christmas carols and hits from Feliz Navidad to Silent Night with verses in te reo Māori.
Youth Opera Aotearoa chairwoman Liz Carrington said she was “really proud” of the young people for their performance in front of “quite a big” audience on the night.
“They do like to be part of their community and give back.”
Ōhinemutu resident Cleo Bonnington said she had heard about the concert via Facebook and turned up at the event early.
“I decided to come because it helps me get into the Christmas Spirit.”
Bonnington enjoyed the hip-hop performances the most.
Sir Howard Morrison Centre performing arts director Janelle Bish said she was amazed at the turnout.
“It’s a real privilege for us to work as a team to support the artistic community and the Salvation Army.”
More than a hundred audience members filled the Sir Howard Morrison Centre foyer for the event.
At 6pm on the night there were 105 items, including cans, cereals, soups and drinks, donated under the performing arts centre’s Christmas tree.