A teen musician who regularly busks in central Rotorua will sing for a chance to win $20,000.

Nev Rolston will appear on singing competition show, Homai Te Pakipaki tonight before a live audience at the Maori Television studio in Auckland.

The 19-year-old, who is based in Tauranga but grew up in Rotorua, can often be seen on the streets in the city centre singing with his guitar.

He is unemployed but hopes to have a career in the music industry.


He will be competing for a grand-final place having won his heat in May with his rendition of Soul Deep from the Mt Zion movie. The series winner will receive a cheque for $20,000.

"It's been a wicked journey. When I first heard I had won [my heat] I was stoked, over the moon," Rolston said.

"Performing felt like I was home really because being a busker, you're performing for a whole town. I've been busking for nearly a decade. I started when I was at intermediate.

"There are a lot of people that think buskers are just out there looking for money. With me, when I go out busking, I make sure I dress nice, I make sure I look the part, act the part.

"Being a smoker, I will put my guitar down and walk away from my gears. I try to be [as] professional as I can be.

"I say, 'Thank you', and, 'Have a nice day', to anyone who gives a koha (gift)," he said.

"Hundreds of people come by me and say, 'Bro, you're mean and everything but I just don't have any change', and I'll just say, 'Just enjoy the music, bro', and keep playing. I've grown to love it. Wish I could do it as a job."

Rolston said he would sing A Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong or the Westlife version of You Raise Me Up.


"I grew up with Louis Armstrong and Josh Groban and things like that, all the old-school era of music instead of the now time. That's where my musical background comes from."

He said 20 whanau members would travel to Auckland to support in the audience.

-Homai Te Pakipaki will screen on Maori TV at 8pm.