Tipene Harmer is no stranger to the Waiata Māori Music Awards.

The Flaxmere-born rapper has always helped out - when the glitz and glamour fades, and the crowds have dispersed, he was there packing down tables when needed.

But last night, the spotlight was firmly on him. Tipene, who was up for four awards, took out Best Māori Urban Artist for his ground-breaking album, Tautoko.

Quite the feat for the Auckland-based artist who had never entered before.

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Harmer, who goes by Tipene was among 15 recipients of the Waiata Māori Music Awards, which were presented at a red-carpet glamour ceremony at Club Hastings before an audience of stars and VIPs from the world of Māori music.

Te Kākono, the group of young Māori artists who created the Te Reo compilation album Te Kākono were the most honoured, awarded Best Māori Traditional Album (Te Reo Māori), Best Maori Pop Artists and Best Song by a Māori Artist for the song, Tōrea.

Waikato-Tainui musician Amba Holly won Best Māori Female Solo Artist for the third year in a row. However, this year, she also took out the Best Māori Songwriter award.

Radio Airplay Song of the Year by a Māori Artist went to Six60 for Vibes. They also performed at the ceremony.

Current hitmaker Troy Kingi, contemporary Māori music pioneer Taisha, multiple award-winners Bic Runga and Theia, along with current finalist La Coco, also performed.

Now in its 12th year, the Waiata Māori Music Awards were established by composer, musician and teacher Tama Huata, ONZM (Ngati Kahungunu), a renowned leader and champion of Māori music and performing arts.

Awards executive director Ellison Huata said: "The Waiata Māori Music Awards celebrate excellence in Māori music and acknowledge and honour the keepers, teachers, promoters, creators and performers of Māori music."

The voice behind Blue Smoke, the late Pixie Williams, was honoured with the Lifetime Contribution to Māori Music Award.

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In 1949, Williams, then aged 21, created what was the first local song ever recorded in New Zealand, along with Ruru Karaitiana and Jim Carter.

She recorded 13 songs in the first two years that recording was available in New Zealand, and she had two hits at that time which were retrospectively awarded Triple Platinum for Blue Smoke, and single Platinum for Let's talk It Over in 2011.

Williams is also being inducted into the NZ Music Hall of Fame this year.

She was one of four "iconic" recipients who were acknowledged for their career contributions. The others were Trevor Horowaewae Maxwell - Keeper of Tradition (Kaitiaki Tikanga Puoru), Abe Phillips - Lifetime Contribution to Maori Music (Mauriora o Te Ao Puoru Maori), and Jarrod Huirama - Music Industry Award (Ahumahi Puoru).

Kirsten Te Rito performed in honour of Iconic Award recipient Pixie Williams.

The winners:
Best Māori Traditional Album (Tohu – Kōpae Mōteatea Hira)
Winner: Te Kākano
Best Māori Pop Artist or Artists Award (Tohu – Kaipūoru Māori Autaia)
Winner: Te Kākano
Best Māori Urban Artist or Artists Award (Tohu – Kaipūoru Māori-noho-taone Autaia)
Winner: Tipene (Tautoko)
Best Māori Male Solo Artist Award (Tohu – Manu Tīoriori Tāne Autaia)
Winner: Pere
Best Māori Female Solo Artist Award (Tohu – Manu Tīoriori Wahine Autaia)
Winner: Amba Holly
Best Song by a Māori Artist Award (Tohu - Waiata Māori Hira)
Winner: Te Kākano (Tōrea)
Best Māori Songwriter Award (Tohu – Kaitito Waiata-Māori Autaia)
Winner: Amba Holly
Best Roots, Reggae Award (Tohu – Kopaeroa Autaia Roots, Reggae)
Winner: NLC (Know your roots)
Radio Airplay Song of the Year by a Māori
Artist in Te Reo Māori Award (Tohu – Kōpae-Irirangi Kaipūoru Reo Māori o te Tau)
Winner: Maimoa (Kawea)
Radio Airplay Song of the Year by a Māori Artist (Tohu – Kōpae- Irirangi Kaipūoru Māori o te Tau) Winner: Six60 (Vibes)
Best Video of the Year by a Māori Artist (Tohu – Ataata Māori Hira o te Tau)
Winner: LAB (Baby Will You Let Me)
Iconic - Keeper of Traditions Award (Tohu – Kaitiaki Tikanga Pūoru)
Trevor Horowaewae Maxwell
Iconic - Music Industry Award (Tohu – Ahumahi Pūoru)
Jarrod Huirama
Iconic – Lifetime Contribution to Māori Music (Tohu – Mauriora o Te Ao Pūoru Māori)
Abe Phillips
Iconic – Lifetime Contribution to Māori Music (Tohu – Mauriora o Te Ao Pūoru Māori)
Pixie Williams