Songwriter Rob Ruha was the most highly decorated talent at last night's Waiata Maori Music Awards in Hastings.

The celebrated Gisborne muso scooped three awards at the gala awards ceremony, which many said underscored the diversity and excellence of Maori music.

He took out best traditional Maori album for Pumau, best song by a Maori artist for Paremata Mene and best Maori songwriter.

He kicked off the ninth show performing a tribute to kapa haka "legend" Ngapo Wehei with three other artists Troy Kingi, Maisey Rica and Ria Hall.


They put together a medley of his top songs and performed it to the packed crowd of 500 at the Hastings Sports Centre.

Dubbed the "most prestigious music awards ever to acknowledge Maori composers" the event seeks to develop, encourage and "honour" the achievements of the both traditional and contemporary music and to "enrich this rich cultural voice".

The awards were established by Hastings man Tama Huata and have been carried on by his children.

Son Ariki Huata said, "We as a family just want to carry on our dad's legacy. We want to make Maori music shine and continue to support one another and the community."

Well-known act Six60 claimed the NZOnAir radio airplay song of the year by a Maori artist award for their song White Lines but were unable to attend the awards.

The five-piece band is currently based in Los Angeles and will not be returning to New Zealand until a summer tour in November.