Gisborne singer-songwriter Rob Ruha strolled down the red carpet three times last night at the Waiata Maori Music Awards.

He took out best traditional Maori album for Pumau, best song by a Maori artist for Paremata Mene and best Maori songwriter.

He kicked off the ninth show performing a tribute to kapa haka "legend" Ngapo Wehei with three other artists, Troy Kingi, Maisey Rica and Ria Hall.

They put together a medley of his top songs and performed it to the packed crowd of 500.

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Ruha begins his first national tour tonight at the Hastings Opera House Plaza to promote his winning album.

"I am amped, it will be good fun. My songs I want to share are about unity, faith, love and Maori world views."

DS Ratima from Whakatu was at the awards for the third time and said he enjoyed celebrating Maori music and listening to Ruha.

"He creates some lovely original music and he is such a humble guy."

Ruha said the awards were a time Maori could come together and share experiences.

New on the scene, REI, at just 22 claimed best music video by a Maori artist for Chief's Speech.

He said he picked up his dad's guitar, downloaded software off his mum's computer at 14 and began to rap.

"Once I found my passion, I just began rapping with my homies and produced music ever since."

He performed a song from his new album Mix to give the crowd a taste of his work.

He studied Maori and marketing with a bit of music on the side at Victoria University before solely focusing on his rapping career.

"I am working on my next album, A Place To Stand, which has 64 demos. I had to cut it down to just 11, which was tough."

He was planning his first national tour for the end of November.

"I just cannot wait to get out there and show people my album and what I create."

The songs were about finding himself musically and what he calls home.

He enjoyed coming to the awards to network and talk to people he looked up to.

"I love being able to interact with other performers who I watch online or hear on the radio. It is a great experience."

The awards were established by Hastings man Tama Huata and have been carried on by his children.

Son Ariki Huata said: "We, as a family, just want to carry on our dad's legacy.

"We want to make Maori music shine and continue to support one another and the community."

Well-known act Six60 claimed the NZ On Air radio airplay song of the year by a Maori artist award for their song White Lines, but they were unable to attend last night's event.

The five-piece band are currently based in Los Angeles and would not be returning to New Zealand until their summer tour in November.