Former Napier Boys' High School students and a Wellington singer with family connections to Hawke's Bay are among the winners at this year's National Waiata Maori Music Awards announced in Hastings last night.
Eli Paewai and Marlon Gebes attended Napier Boys' but their paths crossed a few years later in Dunedin when they formed the band Six60 with Matiu Walters from Auckland, Ji Fraser from Gisborne and Chris Mac from Australia.
The band was named the winner of the Radio Airplay Record of the Year Award by a Maori Artist, for its self-titled debut album released last year, at the music awards ceremony at the Hawke's Bay Opera House in Hastings.
Six60 could not attend the awards but people at the annual event were able to view a special video message sent by the performers offering thanks for the honour of being named a winner.
In an interview earlier, Paewai said the advice he liked giving other musicians starting out in the industry was "never to expect anything" in return for the hard work needed to be successful.
"Music is meant to be honest, it is meant to make you feel something. That is what we strive for in every song," he said.
Kisten Te Rito sings in the capital but is a regular visitor to Hawke's Bay where her father grew up in Mahia. Last night, she was named the winner of the Best Maori Female Solo Artist Award, ahead of Hastings-born singer Toni Huata, who also is now based in Wellington.
The other three finalists in the category included Ria Hall, Tauranga, who was the voice behind the Rugby World Cup opening ceremony last year, Auckland singer Ahorangi Winitana and US-based singer Jess Harlen.
Former Nesian Mystic lead singer Te Awanui Reeder was the major winner on the night, taking home three awards to cement the start of his promising solo career.
The awards included Best Maori Male Solo Artist, Best Song by a Maori Artist (If Things Were Different) and Best Maori Songwriter. For those who weren't able to see him at the awards last night, Reeder is due to play an acoustic set for the fans at Diva in Havelock North this evening.
It was the fifth year the awards had been held in Hawke's Bay and, to mark the occasion, the ceremony was opened by Hawke's Bay's Kahurangi Maori Dance Theatre and a performance depicted the journey of people from the Pacific to New Zealand.
Some of the country's best Maori performers also appeared as guest artists, including former award winners Tiki Taane, Anna Coddington, reggae band 1814 and Sid Diamond.
The awards ambassador, Taisha Tari, who grew up in Napier, joined with Hawke's Bay opera singer William Winitana to perform together at the awards.
Winners of the National Waiata Maori Music Awards, held at the Hawke's Bay Opera House in Hastings:
Best Maori Traditional Album (Te Reo Maori) Award - He Rangi Paihuarere
Best Maori Pop Artist or Artists Award - Seth Haapu
Best Maori Urban Artist or Artists Award - Tatou Tatou E Vol.2
Best Maori Male Solo Artist Award - Te Awanui Reeder
Best Maori Female Solo Artist Award - Kirsten Te Rito
Best Song by a Maori Artist Award - Te Awanui Reeder
Best Maori Songwriter Award - Te Awanui Reeder
Best Roots, Reggae Album - Tomorrow People
Radio Airplay Record of the Year by a Maori Artist in Te Reo Maori Award - 1814
Radio Airplay Record of the Year by a Maori Artist - Six60
Best Video of the Year by a Maori Artist - Best of Me, Ria Hall (artist) & Jessica Senderson (producer)
Keeper of Traditions Award - Mita Mohi
Lifetime Contribution to Maori Music Award - Dr Hirini Melbourne
Lifetime Contribution to Maori Music Award - Dr Richard Nunns
Music Industry Award - Wiremu (Billy) Karaitiana
Iconic Maori Music Composers Award - Historical Te Aritaua Pitama
Emerging Artist - Tunes of I
Emerging Artist - Simone Holland