Welcome to the big time, Arlo Mac.

The Havelock North High School band entered Smokefree Rockquest on a whim, and didn't rate themselves a chance of getting to the finals.

But make it they did. And then magic happened.

The first Hawke's Bay band in the live finals of the national competition for more than two decades didn't just make up the numbers. They won.

Advertisement
Arlo Mac play their heart out on stage at the Smokefreerockquest finals. Photo/ Supplied
Arlo Mac play their heart out on stage at the Smokefreerockquest finals. Photo/ Supplied

In front of judges Chris Mac (Six60), Jeff Newton (NZ on Air), Elizabeth Stokes (The Beths), Hamish Jackson (NZ Rockshop) and Anna Coddington, Arlo Mac exuded confidence, cohesiveness and joy.

Newton said: "Within their music they took their songs on a bit of a journey and melded the genres, styles and time signatures."

It means the little band that could joins a who's who of Kiwi music royalty.

Musical successes from Smokefreerockquest over its 30-year history include Broods, Leroy Clampitt, Kimbra, Aaradhna, Opshop, Evermore, Ladyhawke, Kids of 88, Die!Die!Die!, Joel Little, Tiny Ruins, Marlon Williams, Brooke Fraser, Anika Moa, Chelsea Jade, Nadia Reid, Aldous Harding, Steriogram, Phoenix Foundation, Devilskin, The Black Seeds, Bic Runga, and The Naked and Famous.

Band frontman and Year 12 student Harry Mason said performing on the national final stage with Joe Ledword (bass, Year 12), Thomas Grant (drums, Year 12), and Benjamin Bush (guitar, Year 11) was a moment of euphoria.

Arlo Mac, Smokefreerockquest winners, strike a pose. Photo/ Supplied
Arlo Mac, Smokefreerockquest winners, strike a pose. Photo/ Supplied

"There were nerves but once we got on stage we were ecstatic," said Mason, vocalist and guitarist.

"In the band we all have different personalities and different genres of music we listen to. When we come together we create something quite different, and we love it."

For Ledword it was the crowd's atmosphere and the chemistry between band members which spurred him on.

Advertisement

"We felt so good. Playing up on the stage, the atmosphere of the crowd, jumping around, dancing around was great.

Arlo Mac band members (left to right) Ben Bush, Thomas Grant, Harry Mason, and Joe Ledword. Photo/ Paul Taylor
Arlo Mac band members (left to right) Ben Bush, Thomas Grant, Harry Mason, and Joe Ledword. Photo/ Paul Taylor

"We all had good chemistry between us up on the stage."

The win opens up exciting times for the youngsters.

They are set to star in a "proper" music video with TVNZ and record a song officially in the school holidays, Ledword said.

They also receive $10,000 in musical equipment from the Rockshop, plus an $8000 recording and NewTracks grant from NZ on Air and a branding package from Imaginary Friends.