Two Whangarei cousins may be the next Smokefreerockquest success story after taking out the solo/duo title at the Northland Rockquest heats on Saturday.
Izaia Tilialo (17) from Kamo High School and Huia Shortland (13) from Te Kapehu Whetu Teina have been singing and playing guitar together for two years and their success at Forum North on Saturday has seen them go straight into the national final.
"We just started jamming and it worked," says Izaia.
"We write our songs together - the one we performed (on Saturday) was about being Maori and living in Aotearoa. We just went out on stage and enjoyed making music."
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Guy Yarrall from Kerikeri High School placed second. These two acts now submit 15 minutes of their best work for selection to play off at the national final in September.
Also up for grabs on Saturday were spots in the Smokefreerockquest Northland regional finals at Forum North this Friday.
The bands selected to go on to the regional final were:
Cypruss, from Kerikeri High School; The Monkey Assassins, Rodney College; Alien Weaponry, Bream Bay College/Otamatea High School; H.K.A, Broadwood Area School; Re-Bound, Rodney College; Southgate, Mahurangi College; Something Like That, Bream Bay College; Take 2, Huanui College; WHC, Whangaroa College and Room 44 from Whangarei Girls' High School.
Founder and director Glenn Common said the standard at the heats just keeps going up as entrants get more support from their schools.
"Between now and the regional final they go through all the aspects that make Smokefreerockquest and Pacifica Beats such valuable learning experiences for young people," he said. "The bands going on to the finals need to practise hard, craft their set, get their supporters rallied and make good use of networking opportunities and social media to promote themselves and their achievements."