Wellington singer-songwriter Thomas Oliver has won New Zealand's top songwriting award for his song

If I Move to Mars


The Apra Silver Scroll award acknowledges excellence in songwriting and has, in the past, gone to some of the biggest names in New Zealand music including Bic Runga, Scribe and P Money, and Lorde and Joel Little.

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Oliver accepted the award at a ceremony hosted by John Campbell on Thursday evening at Auckland's Vector Arena.

He describes his winning song - which is about taking someone to Mars and drinking and listening to records together - as light-hearted on the surface, but "at its core, it's a love song and I meant every word."

The point of difference for the Silver Scrolls is that the winners are voted for by their peers, and like Apra Amco's Anthony Healey says: "The acclaim of your peers is special, it's the highest praise and in this case a well-deserved accolade".

Many of Oliver's peers also took home coveted awards (see the full list below) and some performed on the night, taking up the time-honoured tradition of covering the nominated songs.

Performances included Courtney Hate covering Street Chant's Pedestrian Support League, Nadia Reid and Sam Taylor covering Lydia Cole's Dream, and Yoko Zuna covering Oliver's If I Move to Mars.

But one of the night's biggest moments came with the induction of Moana Maniapoto into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame.

Maniapoto is known for combining the best of Maori culture with contemporary music. Her sound is an eclectic mix of genres from hip hop to reggae to haka, and utilises everything from electronic music to traditional Maori instruments.

She's been on the scene since the late-80s when Moana and the Moahunters released their first single. She then went on to form Moana and the Tribe, and now, decades later, they have a sixth studio album in the works.

Full winners list:

APRA Silver Scroll Award:
Thomas Oliver - If I Move to Mars
APRA Maioha Award:
Rob Ruha - Kariri
SOUNZ Contemporary Award:
Salina Fisher - Rainphase
APRA Best Original Music in a Feature Film Award:
Mahuia Bridgman-Cooper and Tama Waipara - Mahana
APRA Best Original Music in a Series Award:
Karl Steven - 800 Words
Hall of Fame:
Moana Maniapoto