Dilworth's 2021 Performer of the Year: Taliai Fifita

Not many teenagers can say that they have performed in front of a crowd of over 6,000 at Spark Arena as well as a national televised event, but this is a reality for Dilworth’s 2021 Performer of the Year, Taliai Fifita. Now studying Music at the University of Waikato, he is steadily working towards making his passion his career.

“The highlight of my performing arts journey so far has been being given the opportunity to perform with Sol3 Mio at Spark Arena to a large audience,” Taliai explains.

He was selected by Chorus Director Claire Caldwell to sing in a choir specifically for Sol3 Mio. The choir sang a diverse set of songs ranging from the popular hymn ‘Jerusalem’ through to two new tracks written by the trio.
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Taliai Fifita with Claire Caldwell the day he got to perform with Sol3 Mio at Spark Arena.

It was Claire Caldwell, who is also the Performing Arts Manager and Director of Choral Studies at Dilworth, that made Taliai aware of his own talent. He first discovered he had a great voice in 2018 when he decided to audition for Dilworth’s elite choir Fortissimo as a Year 10 student.

“When I made it into Fortissimo, I discovered my passion for Classical Music which further developed over my years at Dilworth,” he said.

The pinnacle of his Performing Arts journey at the school was travelling to Dunedin for the National Big Sing Finale.

“Being in Fortissimo and working with the Performing Arts staff has fuelled my passion for music which I am extremely grateful for,” said Taliai.

The encouragement and support from staff were key drivers that led Taliai to sit the prestigious NZEST Scholarship examination in Music, which he passed. At the end of 2021, he was also named Dilworth’s Performer of Year for his exceptional talent and contribution to the Performing Arts department at the school.

“Taliai fully immersed himself in the musical and cultural life of the school. Aside from being the Deputy Head Chorister for Fortissimo, he was also a member of the National Secondary Students’ Choir who performed for Prince Phillip’s Memorial Service and the ANZAC service which were both televised. He was one of the leaders of the Tongan Group that did well at Polyfest and he played the leading role of Jean Valjean in the Diocesan and Dilworth School production of Les Misérables. He really is a talented young man who will go far,” said Claire Caldwell.

Tailai was also the recipient of the University of Waikato Pacific Excellence Scholarship where he is now studying a Bachelor of Music, majoring in Vocal Performance.

“The transition to Waikato felt smooth as did moving in with other university students. Socialising with people was quite easy for me because attending a boarding school helped me develop my social skills,” he explains.

As for his future, Taliai is focussed on making the most of his learning journey at the University of Waikato and ensuing he makes the most of every opportunity.

“My main goal for my studies is to develop my technical skills as a musician and a performer.”



July 19, 2022