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2014 Smokefreerockquest & Smokefree Pacifica Beats Finals

Media Release

It’s the biggest weekend of the year for youth music nationwide as 15 bands and solo/duos take the stage at Auckland’s Q Theatre in the 2014 finals of Smokefreerockquest and Smokefree Pacifica Beats.


Smokefreerockquest is New Zealand’s only nationwide, orginal youth music event, and this year attracted just on 700 entries. Winners from 23 regional finals sent in DVDs of their original music, and the top six bands and three solo/duos were selected in August by judges from the music industry.

Smokefreerockquest Trust chair Matt Ealand said at this level it’s not so much about winners and losers as the experience of performing at the national final.

“They’ve worked hard to make it this far and we do all we can to ensure they have a great time and plenty of opportunities to network,” he said. “The exposure the final brings will help some of them into the industry, and they’ll all make collaborative friendships with the other bands and soloists.”

Ealand said Smokefreerockquest finalists from recent years such as Auckland soloists Massad and Evan Sinton, the Nelson indie-poppers that were formerly The Peasants and Waikato indie-rockers The Good Fun are all now collaborating on songwriting and performance.

The top six bands to play off at the Smokefreerockquest 26th national final 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 have added synths for 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 are Hayden Warren (bass & synthesizer) and Zac Emerson (drums) and Jesse Brown (lead guitar & synthesizer).

SODA BOYZ are a noise punk trio from Palmerston North Boys' High School & Freyberg High. The veteran Smokefreerockquesters met through the music scene and formed Soda Boyz earlier this year. They are Jules Rosenbrook (electric guitar), Felix Carr (bass and vocals), and Josh Finegan (drums).

Joe’s Van is a Mt Maunganui College trio with a six-year history in Smokefreerockquest. Lead guitarist Cormac Seymour says they have their own sound, which incorporates a mixture of styles: "We just put our hand in the cookie jar, grab a few genres out and mash it together." Joe’s Van has been writing music, jamming and playing gigs around the Bay of Plenty since the start of the year. The other members are Rory Priest (drums) and Jake Nicholas (singer and bass).

HeadChef from Wellington High School is 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 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.

Finalists – Solo/duos:

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 L.A) are the initials of Livvy and Anna, the name the girls used for the 2013 Smokefreerockquest. Last year the acoustic pop duo made it through to the top 10 finalists. ELAE opened for a Broods concert in Nelson this year.

Georgia Lines from Bethlehem College in Tauranga describes her sound as alt-pop and says she writes her songs from her own experiences or from thinking about other people and trying to create stories about their lives. She tries to balance her lyrics by using a hook and catchy melody and is inspired by 2004 Smokefreerockquest second place-winner Kimbra,

The national final of Smokefreerockquest is at Auckland’s Q Theatre on Saturday 27 September, start time 7pm, tickets on sale from Guest acts are Doprah and 2013 Smokefreerockquest winners, A Bit Nigel. The event will be opened by the overall winner of the People’s Choice Award voted from the regional winners through Facebook.


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.

Coordinator Elena Lome says right now the finalists are having mentoring sessions with some top names on the New Zealand music scene in a partnership supported by the NZ Music Commission.

“In the run up to the final the six top bands are having at least two sessions with musicians such as Annie Crummer, and Te Awanui 'Awa' Reeder from Nesian Mystik,” she said. “In some cases they’re going to the mentors’ performance space, so it’s a big boost to their confidence – they’re getting tips that will help them to step up to the next level with their performance and musicianship, and it’s going to mean an amazing national final for Smokefree Pacifica Beats.”

The Smokefree Pacifica Beats finalists and the top two soloists will travel to Auckland for the weekend of Sept 26, for two days of music, friendship, mentoring and culture at the noho marae (band camp) held at Horotiu Marae, Auckland University of Technology.

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. The members of Soulful 7 performing at the national final are Zina Setefano (keyboard), Victoria Nanai (drums) Narelle Apa (guitar,vocals) Colleen Vatau (bass) Tuputala Auvele (saxophonist) 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 Betham (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 Aotea College is an energetic ten-piece band that combines Samoan language, cultural elements and fun in its performances. The members of Jah-Mon Fever 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 (lead guitar) Gordon Pritchard (vocals) Stewart Longtime (rhythm guitar), Tipeni Sulu-Magele (keyboard), Leigh Munro (drums) Ezryus Tagaloa-Leniu (vocals) Justin Iosia (bass) and from Mt Albert Grammar School - 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 regular Smokefree Pacifica Beats judges are K’Lee McNabb and Malcolm Lakatani, who will be joined by guest judges Tama Waipara and Jeff Newton (NZoA) and TBC, Che Fu.

The Smokefree Pacifica Beats final is at Auckland’s Q Theatre on Friday 26 September, start time 7pm, tickets on sale from

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.

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