Six60 is just one of the world-class performers to be recognised tonight at The National Waiata Maori Music Awards.

The Hastings Sports Centre will be transformed in to a premier entertainment venue for the ninth time.

Six60's song White Lines had been nominated for the NZOnAir Radio Airplay Song of the Year by a Maori Artist Award. The five-piece band has strong Hawke's Bay connections with guitarist Marlon Gerbes and drummer Eli Paewai both attending Napier Boys' High School.

Mr Gerbes said he knew of Mr Paewai at school but because he boarded they never really crossed paths.


"We reconnected in Dunedin as they were looking for someone to fill in while guitarist Ji was away, so Eli called me up."

Mr Gerbes had been studying engineering in Canterbury and only moved to Dunedin for work in 2009.

"The band had already been together for a year but when I filled in we did lots of 21st events and parties, it was seriously fun."

A few months after Mr Gerbes joined the band it played at its first festival in Queenstown.

He said none of the band members ever expected to get signed and they were just taking it as it came.

"We talked about it only yesterday - how it doesn't feel like we are as big as people make it, but it all seems so natural."

Mr Gerbes said while the band was now based in Los Angeles he was still very connected to Hawke's Bay.

"I try to come back every year for Christmas and when we tour New Zealand we try to play in each of our home towns."

He said life in the band meant he always stayed in bustling cities so Napier was a place he could relax and "chill out".

"I love to play some golf, hang out at Waimarama and catch up with family and friends. The sunny weather is always a bonus."

Six60 took out the best Maori pop album award last year and were excited to be recognised this year. "While we are unable to attend it is just a reminder to us of the hard work we put in."

The band arrives back in the country early November to start a summer tour, which kicks off in Christchurch.

Other performers from around the country were contesting for a variety of awards including best Maori pop album, iconic keeper of traditions award, Maori music industry award, best music video by a Maori artist, lifetime contribution to Maori music, emerging artist award, best Maori urban hip hop/RAP/RnB album, best Maori urban roots album, best Maori male solo, best Maori female solo, best song by a Maori artist and best Maori songwriter.

The awards event will also include the Maori Music Expo which will involve workshops on taonga puoro (traditional Maori music instruments), vocal technique, composition and turntablism, held at the Hawke's Bay Opera House Plaza.

The expo is free and open to the public from 9am to 2pm today. The awards ceremony will follow from 6pm. Doors to the venue open at 5.30pm for those with VIP tickets while general admission opens at 7pm.

For ticket information phone 0800Tapere (06) 873 0041.