Katikati College student Brianna Rackham could be the next Smokefreerockquest success story after taking out the solo/duo title at the Bay of Plenty regional heats.

The 2016 Smokefreerockquest Bay of Plenty regional heats were held at Otumoetai College earlier today.

Performing under her nick-name, Bree, the Year 9 self taught musician has been playing acoustic guitar and piano for four years.

"My song today was about facing life's challenges, such as inequality," she said.

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"I think I may have stood out (for the judges) because I had confidence - I had pushed past my nerves."

Fletcher Oxford from Tauranga Boys High placed second.

These two solo-duos now have to submit 15 minutes of their best material for selection to play at the national finals in September.

Three local bands are among the top 12 bands selected from the heats to go on to play off for the top two places and other awards at the regional final held at the Mauao Performing Arts Centre on June 24.

Those selected were:
AhJeez: Bethlehem College & Tauranga Boys' College
All of the Above: Otumoetai College
The Phonics: Otumoetai College
Downshift: Trident High School
Litany of Lies: Whakatane High School
The Smorgasbord Experience: Trident High School
The Way the River Flows: Mokoia Intermediate, Rotorua Lakes HS, Chapman College
Made Alive: Whakatane High School
The Djentlemen: Western Heights High School
Knitted Biscuit: Rotorua Lakes High School & Western Heights High School
La Blanca: Tauhara College Taupo-nui-a-Tia College
Timeless Black: Trident High School

The other awards handed out at the Bay of Plenty heats were:

- Smokefree Pacifica Beats Award: Mana Kotiro, Te Wharekura O Huiarau

- The Lowdown Best Song Award: Andre Moffat, Tauranga Boys' College

- Mainz Musicianship Award: Dominic Pearson, guitar & vocals from Detached,
Western Heights High School

- Smokefree Best Vocals: Samantha McCutcheon, Taupo-nui-a-Tia College

Founder and director Glenn Common said the standard keeps going up as entrants get more support for contemporary music from their schools and had access to on-line information resources.

"Between now and the regional final they go through all the aspects that make Smokefreerockquest and Pacifica Beats such valuable learning experiences for young people," he said.

"The 12 bands going on to the finals need to practise hard, craft their set, get their supporters rallied and make good use of networking opportunties and social media to promote themselves and their achievements."

The regional events for the Smokefreerockquest and Smokefree Pacifica beats run from May 13 until July 2, with the top regional bands and solo/duos submitting video footage for selection to play-off at the Smokefree Pacifica Beats national final on September 23.

The Smokefreerockquest grand final is held the next day.