Singer Sarah Conlan took out a major scholarship award at the National Country Music Awards in Hamilton last night.

Her reward? A week in a shearer's hut.

The DAG Sheep Station Retreat Scholarship was one of several awards given out in front of an audience estimated at 800 by one presenter, Aly Cook.

Ms Cook said the 'big new award' is more than just a week on a farm.


"It's a sheep station with shearers huts that are like four star accommodation inside. Conlan will have a five day immersion retreat with some of Australia's top songwriters."

Organiser Jenny Haultain spent four days gabbing to the country music community in preparation for the awards. Her voice was raw as she spoke to APNZ about the four hour event and Australian guest singer Morgan Evans, described as "the new Keith Urban".

"In May he was at the Grand Old Opry in Nashville. He's had number one hits in Australia."

Christchurch's Pat Dugan, hailed as the 'Godfather' of New Zealand country music, was presented with the Legend 2014 award.

Dugan is a month shy of turning 88.

Ms Haultain said the ceremony was in two halves, representing different audience trends.

"First it was young and modern country, then it finished off with traditional New Zealand songs as a tribute to the Howard Morrison Trio."

Canterbury artist Phil Doublet took out the best male artist award, while female artist of the year was shared between Canada-born Silver Scroll Nominee Tami Neilson and Kaylee Bell, formerly of Waimate now living in Australia.

"Radio station people don't like the word country and automatically think it's old but there's very much new country out there.

"People coming along for the first time say they don't like country then they're stoked by how much they enjoy it."

Into the East, comprised of Liv McBride and Graeme Woller, took out the award for best duo/group.

Cameron Luxton won the Horizon Award which sends him to Australia's CMC Rocks QLD festival.

"We also sent him to Nashville to sing at Global Arts next year."