Rock-fusion outfit Made Alive from Whakatane High School and Trident High School took out the Bay of Plenty regional final of Smokefreerockquest at the Mauao Performing Arts Centre last night.

The band was established just two months ago by twin brothers Bleyne Heberley (drums), and Jalen Heberley, (bass and vocals), along with Johnny Murray (lead vocals and rhythm guitar) and Kauri Jackson (lead guitar and vocals).

Jalen says the boys opted for dark grey dress shirts on stage on Friday night, and went out to have fun.

"I think our three-part harmonies were something different - no other band had that," he said. "And we were 'locked in the pocket' - we were really tight with our musicality and our performance."


The boys paid tribute to their manager, family friend Casey McGee.

The second placed band was AhJeez from Bethlehem College and Tauranga Boys' College. It features last year's national solo-duo winner Ben Mollison on lead guitar, along with Elijah Taula (lead vocals), Mitchell Nemeth (bass), and Brodie McDowell (drums).

The Phonics from Otumoetai College placed third; the band members are Damien Potts (keyboard), Brayden Dekker (drums), Logan Burrell (bass and lead vocals), Eben Macklow (lead guitar and vocals).

These three bands win musical gear from associate sponsor NZ Rockshops and their suppliers and now submit 15 minutes of their best material for selection as national finalists. They're joined by Brianna Rackham (Bree) from Katikati College and Fletcher Oxford from Tauranga Boys High who placed first and second in the Bay of Plenty solo-duo section announced at the regional heats last month.

Founder and director Glenn Common said from here on the Bay of Plenty finalists would have to work hard to make the most of the opportunity Smokefreerockquest offered.

"They have to submit video footage of their original music that will be judged in August as we lead up to the national final," he said. "This process not only demands musical ability and creativity, they also learn to work together as a group and to develop the organisation and promotional skills they'll need if they're going to make it on the Kiwi music scene."

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The full list of awards made on Friday night was:

Band 1st: Made Alive from Whakatane High School and Trident College
Band 2nd: AhJeez from Bethlehem College and Tauranga Boys' College
Band 3rd: The Phonics from Otumoetai College
Solo/Duo 1st (announced at heats): Brianna Rackham (Bree), Katikati College
Solo/Duo 2nd (announced at heats): Fletcher Oxford, Tauranga Boys High
APRA Lyric Award: Monique Doig from Taupo-Nui-a-Tia for 'Same Game'
Dominate Style Award: The Djentlemen, Western Heights High School
Lowdown Best Song: The Smorgasbord Experience, Trident High School
The Mainz Musicianship Award: Cheyne Tweeddale, La Blanca, Tauhara College
Smokefree Vocals Award: Taine Wanoa, the Freelancers, Trident High
People's Choice voted by text: Litany of Lies, Whakatane High School

The regional events for both Smokefreerockquest and Smokefree Pacifica beats run from May 13 until July 2, with the Smokefree Pacifica Beats national final on Friday September 23 at the Raye Freedman Centre in Auckland, followed by the Smokefreerockquest national on Saturday September 24.

Smokefreerockquest, powered by Rockshop, has national winners' prize packages for bands and solo/duo winners that includes $22,000 in Rockshop vouchers, a $20,000 NZ On Air recording, video and promo package' a 'Decent Exposure' campaign on The Edge TV, a photo shoot and branding package from Imaginary Friends. There is also the MAINZ (Music and Audio Institute of New Zealand) Scholarship for Outstanding Musicianship, the APRA (Australasian Performing Right Association) Lyric Award, the Lowdown Best Song Award, Smokefree Vocals Award, the Dominate Style Award and the People's Choice voted by text with the opportunity to open the Smokefreerockquest national final.