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Smokefreerockquest Finalists Announced Today

Success in the Kiwi-music industry is a step closer for nine Smokefreerockquest national finalists and six from Smokefree Pacifica Beats, announced today.


15 August 2014

There were just on 700 entries in New Zealand’s largest nationwide, orginal youth music event, with contenders going forward from 23 regional finals to play off at the national final in Auckland on September 27.

Judges from the music industry today named the top six bands and three solo/duos, selected from DVDs submitted since the regional finals.

The judging of the finalists was done by singer-songwriter Anna Coddington, Jeff Newton from NZ on Air, Jared Wrennall from legendary New Zealand band Steriogram, and FOUR producer Damien Daniels.

Anna Coddington who was in the winning Smokefreerockquest band back in 1998, said she was blown away by the standard, which crossed a variety of musical genres.

“I tried to think back to when I was a teenager but I’m sure these kids are a lot more sophisticated than when I was at school. Their songwriting was so good…a lot them sounded like radio-ready complete and well-finished songs,” she said. “Another thing that was great to see was the strong performances from females, really shredding their guitars, which maybe shows a shift in attitude…perhaps they’re encouraged more now.”

The top six bands are:

The Bradas from Manukau’s Alfriston College, a close harmony quartet backed with just one acoustic guitar. Their banter and choreographed moves give them an onstage point of difference. They are Davian Laufiso, Darius Opini, Dominic Faalavaau and Travis Pita.

Vacant City from Wairarapa College & Rathkeale College have evolved their sound after five years in Smokefreerockquest and now have two guys on synths adding a backing dimension. Lead vocalist and rhythm guitar player Jake Schdroski says they class themselves as rock with a pop aspect and an 80s’ vibe. The other members of the band are Hayden Warren (bass & synthesizer) and Zac Emerson (drums) and Jesse Brown (lead guitar & synthesizer).

Soda Boyz is a post-punk trio from Palmerston North Boys' High School & Freyberg High. The veteran Smokefreerockquesters met through the music scene and have been playing live venues for the last couple of years. They are Jules Rosenbrook (electric guitar), Felix Carr (bass and vocals), and Josh Finegan (drums).

Joe’s Van is an alt-funk Mt Maunganui College trio with a six-year history in Smokefreerockquest. Lead singer and bass player, Jake Nicholas says they have a very different sound. “We kind of draw on African-American funk and artists like Larry Green,” he says. “We’ve been playing together for about eight or nine years now.” The other members of Joe’s Van are Cormac Seymour (electric guitar) and Rory Priest (drums).

HeadChef from Wellington High School are a reggae-rock four piece who got their name from a friend who used to ‘cook us up the meanest feeds’. Carlos McQuillan (rhythm guitar and vocals) says they play reggae inspired rock with some jazz and psychedelic rock. The other members of Head Chef are Leon van Dijk (lead guitar and backing vocals), Dylan Quinn (drums) and Ted Bartley (bass and backing vocals).

Vivid is an all-female Auckland band with a pop sound, an acoustic element and strong cohesion in their performance. Members are Ashleigh Wallace (rhythm guitar/vocals) who won last year’s Smokefree Women’s Musicianship Award, Kathleen Williams (drums), Ellie McBurney (guitar) from Diocesan School for Girls and Jade Paynter (bass) from Marist College in Auckland.

The three solo/duo finalists are:

Cam Dawson is a Year 10 student at Manurewa High School. He placed third in the Auckland Solo/Duo category and won the award for best song. Cam is interested in writing instrumental music, and has been composing on his computer for the last couple of years.

Elae are Anna Robinson and Olivia Nott from Garin College in Nelson. Elae (pronounced like the city LA) are the initials of Livvy and Anna, the name the girls used for the 2013 Smokefreerockquest. Last year the folk-indie duo made it through to the top 10 finalists. Elae opened for Olivia’s older siblings, Caleb and Georgia, at the Broods concert in Nelson this year.

Georgia Lines from Bethlehem College in Tauranga says that her unique voice and lyric combo set her apart from other singer-songwriters: “I get inspirations for my songs at the weirdest of times in the weirdest of places. Many times, I find conversations with people or dare I say it... sitting on the bus pretending to listen to music, with my headphones in and writing down things that would make great lyrics.”

The national final of Smokefreerockquest is at Auckland’s Q Theatre on Saturday 27 September, start time 7pm, tickets on sale from Q Theatre from August 25. Guest acts to be announced. The event will be opened by the overall winner of the People’s Choice Award, with the voting taking place on Facebook now.


There were over 100 entries in Smokefree Pacifica Beats 2014, an event that recognises and reflects the unique cultural identity of Aotearoa New Zealand and the South Pacific, with bands required to have some Maori or Pacific Island elements in their music or performance.
The top six Smokefree Pacifica Beats finalists are:

Soulful 7 from Auckland Girls Grammar, a seven-piece soul band who sing in English, Tongan and Samoan. They are are Angie Fa'apoi (vocals), Zina Setefano (keyboard), Victoria Nanai (rhythm guitar) Narelle Apa (drum) Colleen Vatau (bass), Valeti Ngahe (vocals), and Seini Pua (vocals).

Open Arms from Rotorua Boys High School are a nine-piece reggae rock band made up of Tawhirimatea Witoko (lead vocals), Terence Apiata (bass), Arapeta Paea (vocals), Wirihana Te Rangi (vocals), Te Hakaraia Wilson (vocals), Tuariki Brown (lead guitar), Lacey Kim (keyboard), Te Tauhu Kingi (rhythm guitar), AJ Moke (drums).

N8V6 (Native Six) from Wairoa College are actually a reggae four-piece, who are: Rhys Burgess (vocalist/lead guitar), Jayme Pomare (keyboard/vocals), Brodie Winiana (drums) and Vaughan Goldsmith (bass). They have a casual style, with songs that include te reo and subjects that range from bullying to typical love songs.

Jah-Mon Fever from Porirua’s Aotea College is an energetic ten-piece band that combines Samoan language and cultural elements in its performance. They are Tipapa Bracken (vocals), Siona Faiga Faamausili (percussion), Evander Seiuli (vocals), Mila Fati (keyboard), Julius Faualii (guitar), Romano Roberts-Vili (vocals), Jasmine Wright (drum pad), Julian Wright (vocals), Steven Taotua (vocals), Junior Brown (pate - Cook Island drums).

Aryze from Hagley Community College is a four-piece acoustic-reggae group made up of Shea Brand (vocals), Zinaya Le Malu (acoustic guitar and vocals), Isla Reeves-Martin (vocals), and Josh Kurene (vocals).

Nesian Kings from De La Salle College in Mangere is an eight-piece with an emphasis on native language. The band members are George Tuigamala (rhythm guitar), Gordon Pritchard (vocals), Stewart Longtime (bass), Tipene Saelua Sulu Magele (keyboard), Justin Iosia (bass), Leigh Munro (drums), Ezryus Tagaloa Leniu (vocals) and Mapa Toutaiolepo (vocals).

The top two soloists are Tequilla Moses from Manurewa High School and Puhi Tau from Lytton High School in Gisborne. They are not in the running for national final awards, but will perform at the finals.

The judges were former pop singer and Mai FM DJ, K’lee, and Auckland musician and tutor, Malcolm Lakatani.

“This year the standard had stepped up a lot – not just in the main centres, but also in the regions across Aotearoa,” K’lee said. “The level of skill and talent made the event a pleasure to judge – whether it was a duo or a whole band they had put a lot of thought into adding instruments and sounds to make their songs more interesting and more likely to be commercially successful.”

The Smokefree Pacifica Beats finalists and the top two soloists will travel to Auckland for a weekend of music, friendship, mentoring and culture at the noho marae (band camp) held at Horotiu Marae, Auckland University of Technology. They then perform at the Smokefree Pacifica Beats final, at Auckland’s Q Theatre on Friday 26 September, start time 7pm, tickets on sale from Q Theatre from August 25. Guest acts are last year’s winners the Rotorua band Strangely Arousing, now gaining a following in Auckland, and award-winnning Tauranga singer and TV presenter Ria Hall, whose sound fuses hip hop beats and vocals layered in English and Māori.

National winners’ prize packages for both events include musical gear from NZ Rockshops and their suppliers, a $10,000 song and video package from NZ On Air, MAINZ scholarships for outstanding musicianship, the APRA Songwriters Award and the Smokefree Best Vocals Award.

More info at or

Smokefreerockquest – 26 years of musical success
Smokefreerockquest is New Zealand’s only nationwide, live, original music, youth event. The series of over 40 events reaches audiences from the Far North to Invercargill. Founded in 1989 by music teachers Glenn Common and Pete Rainey, who now run Rockquest Promotions full time out of Nelson, Smokefreerockquest has become a New Zealand institution. Smokefreerockquest 2014, powered by Rockshop, aims to motivate young musicians to prove their ability and realise their goals in their music careers, and to encourage their peers to support 100 percent original New Zealand music.

Hall of Fame
Musical successes from Smokefreerockquest over its 26-year history include Kimbra, Broods, Midnight Youth, Aaradhna, Opshop, Evermore, Ladyhawke, Minuit, Kids of 88, Die!Die!Die!, NO, Annah Mac, Bang!Bang!Eche!, Streets of Laredo, Joel Little, Cairo Knife Fight, Cut Off Your Hands, the Datsuns, Brooke Fraser, Anika Moa, Kora, Anna Coddington, The Electric Confectionaires, Steriogram, Spacifix, Phoenix Foundation, The Feelers, The Black Seeds, Nesian Mystik, Bic Runga, The Checks, Julia Deans, King Kapisi, The Naked and Famous, Autozamm and Elemeno P.

Smokefree Pacifica Beats
Smokefree Pacifica Beats recognises and reflects the unique cultural identity of Aotearoa New Zealand and the South Pacific.
The event started in 1994 as the Urban Beats Award within Smokefreerockquest and has steadily grown into a competition in its own right. Smokefree Pacifica Beats participants must demonstrate a cultural component in their songwriting and performance, which gives the young musicians the opportunity to prove their ability, combined with cultural relevance.
With events across seven regions, Smokefree Pacifica Beats provides another platform for developing and growing young music talent in Aotearoa. The hall of fame includes Nesian Mystik, the only New Zealand band to ever have ten singles all certified gold or platinum.

Smokefree’s - Smoking Not Our Future Campaign
Smokefreerockquest and Smokefree Pacifica Beats play a large part in helping the HPA’s successful ‘Smoking Not Our Future’ campaign get its key messages in front of a large audience of young people. Smokefree has been the naming rights sponsor of Smokefreerockquest for 24 of its 26 years and this longstanding partnership has been mutually beneficial. This year young people will continue to be asked to join ‘The Movement’, which encourages youth to get more involved in helping New Zealand become smokefree by 2025. Smokefreerockquest and Smokefree Pacifica Beats help students make protective connections to their schools, other students and communities and they also develop new skills and aspirations for their futures. For more information visit


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