Harry Grigg is a gifted young tenor studying at the New Zealand Opera School in Whanganui.

He loves to sing but admits that trying to advance in the world of opera is no mean feat.
"It's endless hard slog work," he says.

But being from a "smallish" sheep station in Cheviot in Canterbury he knows from farm work that hard slog gets the job done.

He said he had his mum to thank for his musical ability for she was not only a singer and pianist but also a teacher.

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Harry's clear tenor voice still has a few years to go before fully maturing but Harry is working hard to bring it to fruition.

"I love to sing and I love to sing opera."

He was thrilled to be aboard the Waimarie Paddle Steamer, Whanganui's iconic 116-year-old coal-fired riverboat, on Friday as the star guest.

With accompanist David Kelly set up with his keyboard on the top deck, the duo entertained the travellers.

About 60 people made themselves comfortable as the notable Waimarie whistle blew for take off through to Upokongaro an hour up river.

Harry sang two short arias mostly focused on arrangements of folk songs and Irish Airs.

The passengers including older couples and families groups with young children enjoyed the music along with a balmy breeze and another day of sunshine.

Harry led the passengers in a hearty singalong of Amazing Grace and sang a rousing Happy Birthday to a man who looked as though he'd rather sink through the deck than face all the cheery voices and well wishers.

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Harry said this year's 24th opera school was another amazing and intense two weeks.

"It was really good to do this lovely boat trip for a couple of hours. It's been very relaxing especially singing to such a happy audience."