Reluctant musician wins contest


A teenager who won the regional finals of an acclaimed talent contest tried to pull out hours before.

John Manulea, 15, was judged the best soloist at last Friday’s Smokefree Rockquest gig at Queenstown Memorial Centre.

But he would not have been on stage at all had it not been for his friends.

“They forced me to go through with it,” Manulea says.

“I was going to pull out on the day but they wouldn’t let me.”

The Wakatipu High pupil was convinced to enter the competition by his music teacher Alison Price.

Manulea, who recently starred in the school’s annual musical Dreamgirls, must now make a video of himself performing his two winning R ‘n’ B/soul songs – Look At Me and I’ll Be There In A Hurry.

Judges will decide whether he goes through to September’s grand final in Auckland – following in the footsteps of bands like The Black Seeds and Opshop.

“I was nervous – I’d only written one of the songs that day,” Manulea, who hopes to be a professional singer, says.

“But on stage it was really good. I was shocked I’d won though – the girl before me [Kirsten Jongsma] was amazing.”

Fellow Wakatipu High students Isabella Reid and Lucy Nichol – performing as duo Lucy and Izzy – finished second in the solo/duo category.

Fledgling Queenstown band could not manage a clean sweep for the local school.

They finished third behind two Mt Aspiring College bands – Mainstreet and Fire Eyed Society.

There was consolation for Euphoric Division bassist Sam Maxwell who was judged best musician.