Teens impress at Rotorua Rockquest finals (+videos)

By Stephanie Arthur-Worsop

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Sly Dog band members Matthew Bell, left, 16, Luke Warbridge, 13, and Sarah Wharekura, 16. Photo / Ben Fraser
Sly Dog band members Matthew Bell, left, 16, Luke Warbridge, 13, and Sarah Wharekura, 16. Photo / Ben Fraser

Some of Rotorua's finest young talent belted out original ballads last night at the regional Smokefreerockquest finals.

Performers from John Paul College, Western Heights High School, Rotorua Lakes High School, Reporoa College, Tauhara College, Rotorua Girls' High School, Taupo-Nui-A-Tia College and Forest View High School wowed the audience and judges with their songwriting skills and seasoned voices.

Western Heights High School band Sly Dog were first to hit the stage with their own twist to funk music.


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Guitarist Matthew Bell, 16, said the band was excited about making it this far in the competition.

"This is my fourth year competing at Smokefreerockquest and I still get pumped about going on stage and performing in front of a large crowd."

Lead vocalist Sarah Wharekura, 16, said there was tough competition at this year's finals.

"There is a lot of really good talent coming from every school tonight so we don't want to be overconfident."

Results from last night's performances weren't available before the Rotorua Daily Post went to print.

Awards given on the night included first and second place for the solo/duos, placings for the top three bands, the MAINZ Musicianship Award, Smokefree Award For Women's Musicianship, Lowdown Best Song, the APRA Lyrics Award and the People's Choice voted by text.


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Smokefreerockquest is New Zealand's only nationwide, live, original music, youth event.

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The series of over 40 events reaches audiences from the Far North to Invercargill.

When all Smokefreerockquest regional finals are complete, the top two bands and solo/duos from each region submit video footage to assist in the selection process for national finalists, who then go on to play off in Auckland on September 27.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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