This year is the fifth and final Smokefree Rockquest for young musician Mia Sohnge.

The Taradale High School student is a regular performer in the annual competition.

She first took to the stage as part of pop-reggae band Image. She and friends Iris Dunn and Felix Landon took the top regional title.

Mia and friend Iris then built on their shared interest and started writing songs and jamming together.


Both will be competing at this weekend's Smokefreerockquest and Smokefree Pacifica Beats 2016 heats.

Hawke's Bay bands and solo-duos are among 2500 young people competing during May and June around the country in New Zealand's only nationwide, live, all original, youth music competition.

Founder and director Glenn Common said the heats give all entrants the experience of performing live on stage, in a professional performance setting.

"It's a supportive atmosphere among their friends and whanau, but walking out on stage to perform lives certainly means they bring out their best," he said.

In its 27 years Smokefree Rockequest has been a launching pad for many young musicians including Kimbra, Ladyhawke, Brooke Fraser and The Naked and Famous.

"Smokefreerockquest provides a benchmark, offers inspiration, airs different ideas and helps entrants to identify their strengths and weaknesses - in time to make some changes as they hone their performance for the regional finals," Mr Common said.

This year students can enter in the solo/duo section as well as being part of a band; and they can be considered for Smokefree Pacifica Beats at the heats if their performance fulfils the required Maori and Pacific elements.

The winner of the solo/duo section will be announced at the regional heats along with the top 12 bands to go ahead to the regional final on June 18.

Mia is performing solo this time round. She has won the regional event three times and came second twice, but has never made it into the top 20 at the national finals.

"That's what I'm aiming for this time - to get into that top 20.

"I'm singing an original song - Drive - which I haven't performed at Rockquest before. After competing for so long I'm not nervous, I'm pretty used to it. But I am really excited.

"This will be my last Rockquest before I head off to university. It's the end of an era."

The Smokefree Pacifica Beats is run alongside rockquest.

It recognises and reflects the unique cultural identity of Aotearoa New Zealand and the Pacific. Participants must incorporate Maori/Polynesian language, instruments, dance or movement in their performance for the event.

Smokefreerockquest and Smokefree Pacifica Beats 2016 heats on Sunday at 1pm at Napier Boys High School.