August marked the start of the annual Te Marama Pūoro Waiata Māori - Māori Music
Month, designed to nurture, grow and inspire up-and-coming performers and established artists.

There is a range of events planned for the month which starts with officially opening nominations for the 13th annual National Waiata Māori Music Awards.

The awards executive director Ellison Huata said everyone around the world is feeling the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and Māori music will be a good way to lift the spirits of people no matter where they are in the world.

"I think our Māori artists have been doing it tough this year and it's great that we're going to be able to have these two events to celebrate our singers, songwriters and performers.

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"It'll give people something positive to focus on over the next couple of months, a chance to reset and refocus, a reprieve from the challenges of the past three or four months."

Huata said this year's TMPWM - MMM, will keep to its original kaupapa, putting a focus on celebrating emerging and established performers, growing their musical talents.

One of the events planned is a singing competition where people can create their own compositions.

The waiata is to be submitted to the awards and it will be judged by a panel of artists.

The top 10 finalists will meet those working in the industry, at the Waiata Māori Music Conference on October 1.

At the conference, established artists and music producers will be able to give the competition finalists some advice and guidance.

Huata says she hopes the exposure will help the finalists take a serious look at a career in music, songwriting or performance.

"This will help to continue to grow the next generation of talented Māori artists."

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There will be two categories for the singing competition, rangatahi, for those under 25 years old, and pakeke, for those over 25.

There will also be a Whānau TikTok Challenge for MMM.

"The challenge is for whānau to perform or dance to a waiata recorded by one of our many Māori artists."

Ellison said with TikTok's popularity among young people around the world, it will be a good avenue to promote Māori music to an international audience.

The National Waiata Māori Music Awards celebrates music released in the 12 months to June 2020.

Artists can submit their work via the Waiata Māori Music website and nominations will close 5pm, August 24.

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A panel of independent judges will review the nominations and the finalists will be announced on September 17.

The winners will be announced at an October 2 gala event which this year returns to the ToiToi, Hawke's Bay Arts and Events Centre, in Hastings, formerly the Hawke's Bay Opera House.

The Waiata Māori Music Awards was founded by Māori performing arts advocate Tama Huata and was launched in 2007.

It is now headed by Tama's daughter, Ellison Huata but retains its original kaupapa, to provide an opportunity to honour the achievements and success of current and developing traditional and contemporary Māori artists.

Full terms and conditions for the 2020 event can be found on the Waiata Māori Music Awards website: https://www.waiatamaoriawards.co.nz/