The winners of this year's Waikato Smokefreerockquest competition in the band category is indie-rock band Albert Street from Hamilton Boys' High School and Hamilton Christian School.
They win a prize package from the Rockshop and go into the national selection pool for the event's live national final, in Auckland on September 12.
Front man Zak Trenwith (vocals and bass) says the win feels amazing. "We have performed at Rockquest for the last three years and it's all paid off. We were all buzzing when we first heard," said the 16-year-old.
"We all go hard on stage and bring a lot of energy to our performance even when we aren't in front of a crowd. We work hard to get our songs tight and sounding mean."
The band's full line-up is Zak Trenwith (bass and vocals), Jacob Smith (drums), Daniel Humphrey (electric guitar), and Jordyn Farmer (keyboard, vocals, synthesiser).
Second place in the band category went to CASPER from Hillcrest High School.
Both bands join the Waikato regional solo-duo winners Becca Caffyn from Rototuna Junior High School (first) and Ephraim and Ollie from Hillcrest High School (second) with the opportunity to submit a video of their original material for selection as one of the top 10 national finalists.
Chairman and general manager Matt Ealand said: "The relationship between Smokefree and Rockquest Promotions goes back 28 years.
"We have seen the culture around smoking and music change over that time, and that is something we are really proud to have been a part of."
The full list of Waikato region awards is:
• 1st place band - Albert Street (Hamilton Boys' High School, Hamilton Christian School)
• 2nd place band - CASPER (Hillcrest High School)
• 3rd place band - Subjective Orange (Hamilton Boys' High School)
• 1st place solo/duo - Becca Caffyn (Rototuna Junior High School)
• 2nd place solo/duo - Ephraim and Ollie (Hillcrest High School)
• Smokefree Tangata Beats - anna (Hauraki Plains College)
• Musicianship Award - Jordyn Farmer of Albert Street (Hamilton Christian School)
• Musicianship Award - Zak Trenwith of Albert Street (Hamilton Boys' High School)
• Smokefree Best Vocals Award - Megan Meroiti of Mymyk (Hamilton Christian School)
• APRA Lyric Award - Becca Caffyn (Rototuna Senior High School)
• ZM Best Song Award - Subjective Orange for '4424' (Hamilton Boys' High School)
• Rockshop Electronic Assist Award - Dxmon Lord (St Peter's School)
Smokefree Tangata Beats is run alongside Smokefreerockquest with a focus on the unique cultural identity of Aotearoa New Zealand and the South Pacific.
Smokefreerockquest, powered by Rockshop, has national winners' prize packages for bands and solo/duo winners that includes $22,000 in Rockshop vouchers, $16,000 NZ On Air recording, video and promo package, and a photo shoot and branding package from Imaginary Friends.
There is also the Musicianship Award, the APRA (Australasian Performing Right Association) Lyric Award, Rockshop Electronic Performance Award, Best Song Award, and Smokefree Vocals Award.
Musical successes from Smokefreerockquest include Broods, Marlon Williams, Robinson, Fazerdaze, Drax Project, Six60, Leisure, Opshop, Evermore, Ladyhawke, Joel Little, Tiny Ruins, Brooke Fraser, Anika Moa, Chelsea Jade, Nadia Reid, Die!Die!Die!, Leroy Clampitt, Aldous Harding, Steriogram, Phoenix Foundation, Skinny Hobos, Kimbra, Aaradhna, The Black Seeds, Bic Runga, and Balu Brigada.
Smokefree Tangata Beats standout successes include Alien Weaponry, Strangely Arousing, and Nesian Mystik, the only New Zealand band to have 10 singles, gold or platinum.