World champs beckon Layna for final time

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By Linda Clarke

Ashburton-grown singer and actor Layna Hunt will represent New Zealand at the talent Olympics in the USA later this year.

Ms Hunt, 28, will be part of the Kiwi contingent at the World Championships of Performing Arts and is busy fundraising for the trip.

The championships have been running for 24 years and attracts performers from over 60 countries; they compete for medals, cash and scholarships. The event will be held at Disneyland in late July.

The talented local performer attended the National Academy of Singing and Dramatic Art after leaving Ashburton College in 2009. She was part of the New Zealand team in 2017 and went to Long Beach, California, with 25 others ranging in age from 5 to 29 years. She bought home a silver and a bronze medal.

“This year will be the last year I can apply to attend as the age cuts off at 29,” she said. “Being one of the eldest members of the team was nice as I felt that I could lend a helping hand to the younger team members.”

Ms Hunt said she loved acting and dancing, but singing was her main strength and she will only be competing in singing categories at the championships.

After grading with a Bachelor of Performing Arts from the national academy in 2012, she has performed in musicals in Mid Canterbury and worked at the Court Theatre in Christchurch, where she now lives.

“As well as musicals I have been singing with my partner’s Dad’s rock bank Odyssey, who have been together for over 45 years.

“We play good, old school rock music and perform often at the Wunderbar in Lyttelton.”

Tapping into her creativity, Ms Hunt started her own photography business Kaleidoscope Eyes Photography; when she is not working fulltime as a receptionist at Argus Heating, she is out capturing special memories for others with her camera.

She is fundraising to attend the world championships and is planning to do sausage sizzles in both Christchurch and Ashburton. She has also started a Givealittle page where supporters can help her cause: https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/help-layna-get-to-la-for-the-world-championships

Ms Hunt will be back in Ashburton this week to take part in a special alumni choir at the Mid Canterbury Summer Singing School. The school will be marking 20 years.

“I have so many special memories of performing in Ashburton. Singing at Christmas in the Park, the summer singing school with Jo Castelow and Alice Sollis and Mid Canterbury Children’s Theatre.

“The Ashburton Operatic Society productions hold very dear memories to me. My all-time favourite memory was performing as Eponine in Les Miserables in 2009. Getting to perform in the brand new event theatre was an absolute pleasure and something I will treasure for life.”