Controversy has hit the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards for the second year running.

Te Arawa singer-songwriter Maisey Rika was nominated for the Best Māori Artist award ahead of the event on November 16, but has withdrawn.

During the 2016 ceremony popular R&B singer Aaradhna refused to accept her Tui award for best urban/hip-hop artist, saying she was a singer not a hip-hop artist and it was unfair for a singer to be compared to the other finalists Onehunga rap crew SWIDT and veteran PNC and handed the award to SWIDT.

The Porirua-born star - who is of Samoan and Indian descent - said she felt she'd been put in a category for "brown" artists.


"This song is Brown Girl, it speaks so many things, it speaks racism, and being placed in a box. For me, I feel like if I was to accept this, I'm not being truthful (to my) song,"

It was unclear why Rika had pulled out of this year's event.

She already has two Tuis - for Best Māori Language Album - which she took home for her double platinum debut E Hine and her album Whitiora.

Rika was also nominated in the Best Female Vocalist category as a 15-year-old in 1998.

Organisers confirmed this week she'd withdrawn from the Best Māori Artist category "for her own reasons".

"It's very disappointing for us but we can't insist artists are involved if they decide to remove themselves from the competition," said Damian Vaughan, chief executive of Recorded Music.

He told the Herald the two other nominees in the category - Alien Weaponry and Teeks 'The Grapefruit Skies EP' - were still candidates for the award.

"Our focus now if to ensure that we stage the best night in entertainment on 16 November and celebrate all our finalists and artists in a style the VNZMAs are well known for."


Neither Rika nor her manager Bossy Hill could be reached for comment last night.

The songstress has toured New Zealand, Australia and Asia and performed with Kiwi artists Dave Dobbyn, Hinewehi Mohi, Anika Moa and Australian Idol winner Stan Walker.