Some of New Zealand's best home-grown musical talent will be rolling through town for the Tauranga Arts Festival - a chance to hear award-winning, genre-busting singer-songwriters.

Nadia Reid is returning for the festival from Britain, her home since August.

"Travelling inspires me," she says. "I'm learning that things need to happen for the writing to come. Like making time to be alone with my guitar, something I've grown to crave."

Since the release of her first album in 2015, Nadia has performed at some of the world's most respected music festivals, including Green Man Festival (UK), End Of The Road Festival (UK) and a television appearance on BBC's Later ... with Jools Holland and was identified by Britain's Guardian newspaper as a talent to watch.


Reb Fountain has a new album out next year, releasing a single from it this month. "It's my best work so far," she says of the album. "It's really representative of me."

The genre it falls into is a bit tricky though. Reb, who has been tagged 'folk' for some time and was a finalist for last year's Tui Award for best folk album (Little Arrows), also won best country artist at last year's New Zealand Country Music Awards and APRA Best Country Music Song for the lyrical lament Hopeful and Hopeless. Reb was thrilled with the awards, although a little bemused as she has never considered herself a country artist.

"Before folk I had rock and punk influences, people like Sinead O'Connor, Marianne Faithfull and PJ Harvey, even Joni Mitchell and Joan Armatrading. I feel like I'm making strong, female-led music that's meaningful and kick-ass ..."

 Reb Fountain
Reb Fountain

Both Reb and Milly Tabak, the 25-year-old frontwoman of The Miltones, started performing in their early teens with Milly gaining experience and confidence in an after-school programme at Kaipara College.

"I do suffer from nerves," Milly says, "but it's a good thing. I translate it into excitement at getting up on stage and performing."

The Miltones last year toured with Tami Neilson, who appears at the festival with her brother Jay in an acoustic set and talking about their upbringing in Canada where the three Neilson siblings performed with their parents in a gospel group.

Tami moved to New Zealand in 2007 and just two years later picked up the first of her many music awards in this country. Although known as a country singer, Tami also performs rockabilly, gospel and old-fashioned rock 'n roll.

She returns to Canada regularly to write and record with Jay who has contributed to her many albums and appears in several of Tami's music videos, including Holy Moses, which in late 2016 was No 2 in the Canadian top 20. The same year, her song So Far Away was used in the Nashville TV series.


The siblings' 2014 collaboration Walk (Back to Your Arms), won that year's coveted APRA Silver Scroll songwriting award. Tami's 2015 album Don't Be Afraid debuted at number one on the New Zealand music charts, and her latest single, Big Boss Mama, was included in Rolling Stone magazine's March edition in a list of '10 Best Country and Americana Songs to Hear Now'.