Matiu has world at his feet
Matiu Samuel performing on stage in Te Awamutu during the 2005 festival. The pint-sized performer is not only a little older and taller now, he is also a world title holder. File photo.
By Cathy Asplin
Success by a family which competes in Te Awamutu Competitions Society’s annual festival highlights the quality of this local event.
The Samuel family from Stokes Valley regularly visit Te Awamutu to perform in the competitions. In recent years they have also travelled to Australia to perform, but since their last visit to Te Awamutu they have ‘spread their wings’ even further to compete in America - with stunning success.
The three Samuel children - Aroha, Marie and Matiu - all qualified to compete in America’s Dance Finals and the World Dance Challenge. The trip required a huge fundraising effort - the siblings gave up Christmas and birthday presents, as well as any treats, to get there. Combined with strong support from the community, spearheaded by their local Rotary and Masonic Lodge, they raised the $20,000 required.
The family headed to Las Vegas for three weeks at the beginning of this year - where Aroha competed in the teenage section, Marie in the 9-12 age group and Matiu in the eight years and under section. The three dancers racked up some impressive scores and collected 20 trophies in all, with Matiu taking out the World Dance Challenge for his age group.
Some of the large trophies with marble bases were unable to be packed in their bags, so had to be brought home as hand luggage. The children caused quite a stir as they passed through airports with the spoils of their success.
Local people will be able to see the Samuel siblings on stage next week, as they compete in the modern dance and tap sections of the Te Awamutu competitions.
The Samuel name already graces a number of Te Awamutu trophies - including the inaugural Cindy Ritossa Memorial Trophy which was won by Aroha last year.
The Te Awamutu Competitions Society annual festival begins this weekend - ballet, pianoforte, speech, drama and vocal all begin on Saturday. The Samuel family will make their first appearances on Monday in the modern jazz section (Te Awamutu College Hall) and will appear again in the tap section which follows.
For more details about the 55th annual festival, see the special feature (pages 8- 10) inside today’s edition.