Twelve high school bands from Kawakawa, Kaitaia and Kerikeri went head-to-head in Friday night's Be Free Battle of the Bands, won after a tight contest by high-octane, head-banging Anon made up of students from Kerikeri High and Springbank schools.

This year's event, which is organised by music and lifeskills mentoring programme Be Free, stood out for the high number of Kaitaia entries and because it was held in the main auditorium at the Turner Centre for the first time.

Second place went to Radiance (Bay of Islands College), third to Jinx (Kerikeri High/Springbank) and people's choice to 6th Century (Kerikeri High).

The musicianship award was won by Anon bass player Jack French while the vocals prize was shared by the singers of Kerikeri band The Sparrows (Sofia-Antoinette Mikhailiadis, Kirsten Clark, Nikita Bennett) after they overcome technical gremlins.

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Anon has since been offered a slot at the Pacific Rim Metalfest in Paihia this Friday.

Jade Norman (vocals, 18) of Bay of Islands College band Radiance with Wiremu Potae (left, guitar/vocals, 18) and Kawa Carrington (guitar, 15). Photo / Peter de Graaf
Jade Norman (vocals, 18) of Bay of Islands College band Radiance with Wiremu Potae (left, guitar/vocals, 18) and Kawa Carrington (guitar, 15). Photo / Peter de Graaf
Siblings Ishmael and Khalila Strevens of Waipapa band Jinx. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Siblings Ishmael and Khalila Strevens of Waipapa band Jinx. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Mitchell twins Michael, left, and Brendon, 16, of Kerikeri, perform with last year's winning band Ventura. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Mitchell twins Michael, left, and Brendon, 16, of Kerikeri, perform with last year's winning band Ventura. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Twelve-year-olds Mihiora Tan (keyboards) and Charlie Sharp (guitar) of Kaitaia Abundant Life School band KTA Groovers. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Twelve-year-olds Mihiora Tan (keyboards) and Charlie Sharp (guitar) of Kaitaia Abundant Life School band KTA Groovers. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Bass player Irimana van der Mei, 17, of Kaitaia Abundant Life School band Iri's Crew. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Bass player Irimana van der Mei, 17, of Kaitaia Abundant Life School band Iri's Crew. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Fourteen-year-old Sofia-Antoinette Mikhailiadis of Kerikeri band The Sparrows. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Fourteen-year-old Sofia-Antoinette Mikhailiadis of Kerikeri band The Sparrows. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Kaitaia Abundant Life student Camden Rutene, 16, of Camden and the Kittens. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Kaitaia Abundant Life student Camden Rutene, 16, of Camden and the Kittens. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Members of Kerikeri-Waipapa band Anon react as Northland music legend Dave Gorrie announces the winners. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Members of Kerikeri-Waipapa band Anon react as Northland music legend Dave Gorrie announces the winners. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Battle of the Bands winner Anon, from left, Hector Danilo, 14, Felix Danilo, 17, Lara Sharipova-Williams, 15, Jeffrey Sharipova-Williams, 12, and Jack French, 16. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Battle of the Bands winner Anon, from left, Hector Danilo, 14, Felix Danilo, 17, Lara Sharipova-Williams, 15, Jeffrey Sharipova-Williams, 12, and Jack French, 16. Photo / Peter de Graaf