Two musicians who spearheaded a revival in traditional Maori instruments are being given an honour until now reserved for the country's most influential pop acts.

Richard Nunns and the late Hirini Melbourne will be this year's inductees into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame, one of the awards that Apra (the Australasian Performing Rights Association) will be giving at tonight's annual Silver Scroll ceremony.

Previous inductees include Johnny Devlin, Jordan Luck, The Straitjacket Fits and the Topp Twins.

Before Melbourne's death in 2003, he and Nunns regularly performed and recorded together, having struck up a friendship over their mutual fascination with taonga puoro - traditional Maori instruments which had previously largely been confined to museum displays.

Melbourne had been a university lecturer and composer whose many Maori language songs are now sung in New Zealand classrooms.

Nunns is one of the country's foremost authorities on taonga puoro, who, as well as working with Melbourne, has featured on recordings by Moana and the Moa Hunters, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and Salmonella Dub among many others.

"This is one of the most significant stories in New Zealand music - an instrumental tradition lost for more than a century but, against all odds, bought back to life. It's an extraordinary story of extraordinary people" says Apra's director of NZ operations, Anthony Healey. "These two and their achievements sit right alongside the icons of New Zealand music." The Silver Scroll's main award for song of the year - the nominees are Midnight Youth, Shayne Carter, Jess Chambers, Phil Madsen and James Milne with Luke Buda - will be announced in Christchurch tonight.