Rising Kiwi hip-hop artist Rei admits he shed a few tears upon learning he was nominated for Best Māori Artist at the 2019 New Zealand Music Awards.
The Auckland-based bilingual rapper, singer and producer is one of three finalists up for the prestigious award, and is also in the running for Best Soul/RnB Artist.
Rei's nominations follow the July release of his third album, The Bridge and the success of his 2018 EP, Rangatira, which melded trap music with lyrics recorded entirely in te reo.
"I'm stoked-as. I may have teared-up when I got the email," he says.
"I've been submitting myself for the last few years so to finally be a finalist is great. I'm up against some fierce competition so I'm not worried, I'm just happy to be nominated.
"It's just so cool to finally be getting the recognition that I've been working hard towards and finally ticking off some of those goals."
The 25-year-old says simply being an award finalist helps reinforce his commitment to his twin passions of music and te reo in a roller coaster industry full of highs and lows.
"It's not always easy," he explains. "There's a lot of times when you don't know when the next pay cheque is coming from.
"But things like this just help me to stay motivated and remind me that I believe in my musical kaupapa.
"I believe in what I'm doing with language - mixing it up with te reo - and keeping my chief kaupapa of rangatiratanga encouraging self-empowerment and encouraging people to be chiefs of their own minds, environments and future."