There's a big sense of pride at Whanganui's Rutherford Junior High. Their seven-piece band, 8 Melodies, has come back from Hawke's Bay with the regional Rockshop Bandquest title, scoring first place in a line-up of bands from the area.

To top it off, their drummer, Mason Maraku, won the Rocking Drummer award.

The band consists of Febelyn Kitongan (keyboard), Mason Maraku (drums), Seini Baleinukulala (vocals) Summa Arai (vocals), Kalani Ranginui (keyboard), Oceania Marino (vocals) and Isaac Waitokia-Saggers (bass).
Their win gets them a $400 credit with The Rockshop for their school.
"We've been songwriting as a group and we've been playing some covers from other artists," says Summa.

Mason's father is Rutherford's music teacher so his bandmates say he was born into it.
"When I was two he got me a little drum kit," says Mason.


"We started the band last year," says teacher Katie Fergus who manages the group. "and a lot migrated to secondary school so we brought in some more." She says the band has been spending six or seven hours a week afternoons ...
"Practising, writing, perfecting, critiquing ... and weekends. The weekend before [the competition] they spent nearly eight hours at school rehearsing."

The band also had to raise funds to pay for their trip to the regional event.
"We were the only out-of-region band so to take the regional spot away from anyone in Hawke's Bay is a big thing," says Katie. "We had a massive support crew that travelled with us on the night. They cooked breakfast for the kids the next morning."

The band has set its sights on the Rockshop Bandquest finals later this year, hoping to add another notch on the Rutherford successes.

"We also won the basketball against WIS [Whanganui Intermediate School], we got into the finals for the football, we came third in the PCT [Police Competency Training] Challenge, and some of that is because we've got dedicated staff who are prepared to put in the extra hours with the kids to ensure that happens," says Principal Diane Henare.