Community Funding Feature – Showquest Southland 2023

A group of Southland Girls’ High School pupils delivered “a moving performance” to take the top honour at the recent Showquest Southland event.

The event was held at the Civic Theatre in Invercargill and attracted schools from throughout Southland, as well as some visiting Otago schools.

Nine schools and 440 students were involved in front of an audience of 550.

The judges were Angela Newell (performance), Ash Bartlett (technical) and travelling judge Emma Carey (movement). 

“It was wonderful to see so many students clearly enjoying their creativity as they devised their own performances. The standard was very high and it was a close competition,” Newell, a judge, and ILT board member, said.

Showquest is New Zealand’s largest nationwide performing arts competition and a platform for youth voices to be heard.

Each original stage performance combines art, music, dance, drama, culture and technology.

Students design, produce, and perform these stories.

Showquest’s partnerships and projects manager Kelsey Moller said the event was well supported in Invercargill, in terms of schools participating, attendance, and importantly funding backing.

It includes support from the ILT which ensures Showquest Southland exists.

“We have really great funders down south,” Moller said.

“We are really passionate about making it representative of all facets of the arts. So not just dance, also inclusive of music, drama, culture and art.

“We think it’s really important for young people to tell their stories on a national stage and be able to express their ideas and the issues that are important to them in a way that is creative and empowering.”

It was Southland Girls’ High School that took out the senior honour at this year’s event for their performance of a story based around the Battle of Passchendaele.

This is the pupils’ synopsis of the story behind their performance: The Battle of Passchendaele, one of New Zealand’s most forgotten battles of WW1, was one of the darkest days in our history. A young boy wanting to see the world for the first time wasted no time in enlisting. Leaving his beloved sister and family at home, the young boy writes of his experiences. After a strenuous battle, the young boy lays dying dreaming of a goodbye with his sister although he will never see her again. The family at home created a memorial for those who had fallen before us in order to keep their memories alive.”

Moller said the performance was a really moving piece.

“Often we see performances that reflect the issues that are important to young people. We see lots of things about climate change, body image, and social media.

“But also, they use it as an opportunity to tell historical stories, it could reflect the learning they are doing in class, or it could just reflect something they deem important to tell because it is really a student driven performance.

“They take on all of leadership roles of director and choreographer and story writer and the students have the opportunity to work collaboratively to work together over two terms.”

It was James Hargest College which took out the junior section with a story and performance based on a young girl about to start her high school journey.

The synopsis says:“Her worries keep her up at night as she contemplates all the possibilities ahead of her. Will she be a Broadway star? A community hero? A famous sportswoman? Or a political activist? Along the way, she’ll realise that she can be anything she wants to be and there is no rush to decide!”

Moller said it was great to have the event back operating at its full capacity after Covid-19 had played havoc in recent years.

“We didn’t run any events in 2020 due to Covid and then the last couple of years we’ve been quite disrupted. Last year we didn’t have any audience, so it’s been amazing to get back in front of live audiences all over the country.

“Especially down in Southland, it was really great to see the enthusiasm for the event from the local community and local schools.”

“It’s such a beautiful theatre, the Civic Theatre, they have a great experience.”


1ST PLACE – James Hargest College

2ND PLACE – Southland Girls High School


1ST PLACE – Southland Girls High School

2ND PLACE – Central Southland College

3RD PLACE – Mount Aspiring College

Showquest School Spirit – Central Southland College

Whetū Rangatahi – Star of the Show – Tamzyn Dillinger / James Hargest College Junior

For the full results follow the link.