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Anna Tukuitoga, left, alongside Alyssa Martinovich and Chloe Watson, formed a trio called Rodeo and won big at an entertainment awards night. Photo: SUPPLIED

Anna hangs up country music hat

Winning a country music competition was a touching goodbye for a singer who will now turn her attention towards other genres.
Anna Tukuitoga, 18, has been involved with the country music scene for more than a decade, but as the Paeroa singer wraps up her schooling at Hauraki Plains College, she’s looking forward to focusing on other musical forms.
“I’m looking at going to Massey University, studying commercial music and majoring in music practice, so I think I’m going to take a step away from country music a bit and explore all types of music genres,” she told The Profile.
“I’m excited but I don’t know how to feel. It’s just the idea of growing up, because country music has been such a big part of my life for so many years, and going down to Wellington is going to be so different.”
Anna was only five-years-old when she became part of a musical trio established by her then-babysitter.
“She heard me singing in her garage one day, and asked if I could sing for her, so I sang and we formed a group with her grandkids,” she said.
It’s fitting then, that in Anna’s final country music competition, she was part of a trio called Rodeo.
The group – made up of Alyssa Martinovich and former Hauraki Plains College student Chloe Watson – was only formed in June this year when they competed at the Waikato Country Music Awards in Putaruru, winning the overall intermediate section as well as the open duo/group section.
This gave the trio entrance into the New Zealand Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year Awards, held at the Bethlehem College Performing Arts Centre in Tauranga in October.
Rodeo won the intermediate section, and Anna said it was an “amazing experience”.
“It’s so refreshing to see younger kids come through in country music, considering country music is very unique and not a very ‘trendy’ genre for most teens these days,” she said.
“I’m so proud of the girls because when we first started out in Putaruru, we were quite unsure of each other; we lacked that connection and passion, but we all built it up by growing our confidence.”
The trio sang two songs: Your Side Of Town by Maddie & Tae, and Young Love by The Judds.
Now, banjo-playing Anna said she might take a step to the side and focus on performing bluegrass music, but she says country music is in good hands.
“If the North Island and the South Island come together more, then we’re in good hands… it’s inevitable.”