Kaitaia's Abundant Life School made its presence felt at Tikipunga High School on Sunday, where talented young musicians from throughout Northland contested the 2021 Smokefreerockquest regional heat. Abundant Life School's Camden Rutene and Travis Horan (Camden) won the solo/duo competition, with Moehau Morunga and Shelby Baker (Toka Iti), from Kaitaia Abundant Life School and Te Rangi Aniwaniwa, second.
Toka Iti also placed second in the Smokefree Tangata Beats Award, won by Te Reo Kia Māori Mai (Whangārei Intermediate), both acts now having the opportunity to submit video footage for selection for the national finals in Auckland on September 17.
Meanwhile the 12 bands that were named for the regional final on June 23 included Under Pressure, The Click. No Vacancy (all Kerikeri High School), and The Young Guns 2.0 (Tāipa Area School).No Vacancy (Kerikeri High School).
The Northland regional final will take place at Forum North, in Whangārei, starting 7pm, tickets ($10 for school students, $20 for adults) from Eventfinda or at the door.
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Judge Jessie Booth, who spent Sunday observing the talent, was impressed.
"It was clear throughout the event that these young musicians up in Northland have been working really hard at their craft. For a lot of the entrants it would likely have been their first time on stage. They should all be really proud of themselves," she said.
Founder and director Pete Rainey said while Smokefreerockquest was a competition, the environment throughout the nationwide series of events was hugely supportive, with the emphasis on participation.
"Between now and the regional final, the work participants will put in to prepare for the next stage is a big part of what makes Smokefreerockquest and Smokefree Tangata Beats such valuable learning experiences," he said.
"The solo-duo acts going into the video submission round, and the bands going into their regional final, will need to practise hard, and make good use of networking opportunities and social media to promote themselves and their achievements. For a lot of students these steps can be part of their NCEA assessments."
Musical successes from past Smokefreerockquests include the Broods, Marlon Williams, Fazerdaze, Aldous Harding, Nadia Reid, Drax Project, Six60, Leisure, Opshop, Evermore, Ladyhawke, Joel Little, Tiny Ruins, Brooke Fraser, Anika Moa, Chelsea Jade, Die!Die!Die!, Leroy Clampitt, Robinson, Steriogram, Phoenix Foundation, Skinny Hobos, Kimbra, Aaradhna, The Black Seeds, Bic Runga, and Balu Brigada.
Smokefree Tangata Beats standout successes include Alien Weaponry, Strangely Arousing and Nesian Mystik, the only New Zealand band to ever have 10 singles certified gold or platinum.