We recently had the pleasure of sponsoring the 2017 Northern Area Performance Awards, where we presented the Award for Best Musical to Manukau Performing Arts for In The Heights, as well as two scholarships to a couple of well-deserving members of our local theatre community; Hayley Va’aa and Amanda Burnett.

Hayley Va’aa 36 year old Pukekohe local who teaches at Pukekohe Performing Arts, was recently awarded a scholarship at the Northern Area Performance Theatre Awards.

These awards recognise excellence and talent in musical theatre, covering an area from Pukekohe to Kerikeri. The scholarship Hayley received was from iTICKET and will help her get to the Junior Theatre Festival in Atlanta next year.

Hayley has been involved in theatre since she was six and directing since Seussical in 2015. She applied for the scholarship as she is now into her second year of teaching and developing the Rising Stars Programme at Pukekohe Performing Arts and also the Youth Centre there.

“Hands down favourite thing about teaching is watching the kids change from really shy, to super confident performers,” said Hayley. “I want to keep as passionate as I am now, and keep these kids interested in performing!”

Hayley’s goal is to get to the Junior Theatre Festival in Atlanta, Georgia in January 2019 so she can do professional development with the team at itheatrics, who develop all of the Broadway Junior shows. “Obviously this year is going to mean a whole lot of fundraising to get me to Atlanta, as it’s not just flights and accommodation but also meals, getting resources to help me carry on my learning and heaps more.”

“Last year I directed High School Musical Junior, and last weekend we auditioned a heap of kids for the New Zealand Premiere of Madagascar Junior. I’ll be working with 54 kids until July on this show,” said Hayley.

Pukekohe Performing Arts had two nominations at the Northern Area Performance Theatre Awards, and although they were not placed this year, Hayley’s scholarship award made up for that.

By Jess Paton for The Post, Franklin & North Waikato.