Industry Veterans Win Big in Pacific Music’s Biggest Night

June 16th 2015
Industry veterans Cydel lead the winners list at the 11th annual Vodafone Pacific Music Awards taking home three awards.

Industry veterans Cydel lead the winners list at the 11th annual Vodafone Pacific Music Awards taking home three awards. 

Cydel – aka Pele Nili and Dee Letoa – have won the Nui FM Best Pacific Artist, Radio 531pi Best Pacific Group and Recorded Music NZ Best Pacific Music Album. The awards are in recognition of their second album Memoirs of a Midnight Cowboy. The Auckland duo took home its first Pacific Music Award in 2008.

Smashproof’s socially poignant song Survivors (featuring Pieter T) sees the trio take out the coveted APRA Best Pacific Song award, along with NZ On Air Best Pacific Music Video, which was directed by Chris Graham. Tyree, Deach and Sid first enjoyed success when their debut single Brother topped the NZ Official Top 40 Charts in 2009. 

TJ Taotua picks up his first two Vodafone Pacific Music Awards for NZ Music Commission Best Pacific Male Artist and Best Pacific Gospel Artist. TJ has extensive experience performing with some of New Zealand’s top artists such as Aaradnha, Nesian Mystik and Katchafire - skills that shone during his well-received performance at the awards. 

Virgin Australia Best Pacific Female Artist goes to Auckland’s North Shore soul singer Erakah for her E.P Organised Chaos. Erakah wrote and co-produced the pre-production of her E.P last year, all while touring with Six60 and Stan Walker, including opening for Beyoncé. She also recently launched the ‘Yana Girls Movement’ supporting young girls in Fijian villages. 

This year’s Flava Best International Pacific Artist award goes to Samoan neo-soul singer Maryanne Itofor Waking Up. It, who is based in Hawaii, writes all of her own material and has worked alongside top producers and musicians to create timeless songs. Waking Up reached #4 in the official UK soul chart, an achievement which is testament to her international success. 

The Tagata Pasifika Best Pacific Language Recording award goes to South Auckland’s Word of Life Choir for Toele I La’u Auaunaga. Known for its rich sound and talented soloists, the choir consists of more than 80 members between the ages of three and 75 years. 

The NZ On Air Radio Airplay award is presented to Brooke Fraser for Kings & Queens. Fraser has been a regular on NZ airways since her 2003 album What To Do With Daylight. Her latest album Brutal Romantic is a change of tune from her previous work, but has been warmly received by critics and fans.

The Vodafone People’s Choice Award goes to Three Houses Down which was determined solely by public vote.

Donell Lewis receives the Phillip Fuemana Award for Most Promising Pacific Artist. The 19 year old South Auckland artist is credited with the talent and drive to become a household name. He is currently working on his first studio album. 

Vodafone Pacific Music Awards Trust chairperson Rev. Mua Stickson-Pua says this year’s winners show the strength and variety of talent that the Pacific Music community holds. 

“Our Pacific artists are permanent fixtures on the New Zealand airwaves. Well-known artists such as Erakah, Cydel and Smashproof are leading the way for the next generation of Pacific talent, people such as Donell Lewis.” 

Additional awards
Herbs has been recognised with the Manukau Institute of Technology Lifetime Achievement Award for its success and influence during the past 36 years. The reggae group was acknowledged for their debut release EP Whats’ Be Happen? and Light of the Pacific. Both provided a confronting commentary on the political landscape at the time, particularly the Springbok Tour. The band is considered to be a pioneer of Pacific reggae, having paved the way for other top artists including Three Houses Down who performed a surprise musical tribute to the group at the awards ceremony this evening.

Operatic trio Sol3 Mio also received a special recognition award for their incredible domestic and international success. Samoan brothers Pene Pati, Amitai Pati and their cousin Moses Mackay’s self-titled album has gone platinum seven times, and they continue to tour locally and internationally. 

“Sol3 Mio’s triumphant story shows that Pacific artists can achieve worldwide success, and in doing so, share the sound of our people and our nation,” says Rev. Pua.

“The Vodafone Pacific Music Awards winners highlight the thriving and vibrant Pacific music scene we have in New Zealand. We have a diverse line up this year, from successful and experienced artists to new arrivals who will continue our traditions and the legacy of Pacific artists before them. Congratulations to all of this year’s winners.” 

The Vodafone Pacific Music Awards and performance showcase were held tonight (June 13) at the Vodafone Events Centre in Auckland. 


2015 Vodafone Pacific Music Awards winners by category:

VIRGIN AUSTRALIA BEST PACIFIC FEMALE ARTIST  Erakah ‘Organised Chaos’
NZ MUSIC COMMISSION BEST PACIFIC MALE ARTIST TJ Taotua ‘Magnified’
NIU FM BEST PACIFIC URBAN ARTIST Cydel ‘Memoirs of a Midnight Cowboy’
RADIO 531PI BEST PACIFIC GROUP Cydel ‘Memoirs of a Midnight Cowboy’
NZ ON AIR BEST PACIFIC MUSIC VIDEO Smashproof “Survivors (featuring Pieter T)”
APRA BEST PACIFIC SONG  Smashproof “Survivors (featuring Pieter T)”
TAGATA PASIFIKA BEST PACIFIC LANGUAGE Word of Life South Auckland Choir ‘Toele I La'u Auaunaga’
BEST PACIFIC GOSPEL ARTIST TJ Taotua ‘Magnified’
FLAVA BEST INTERNATIONAL PACIFIC ARTIST Maryanne Ito ‘Waking Up’
NZ ON AIR RADIO AIRPLAY AWARD Brooke Fraser “Kings & Queens”
VODAFONE PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD - BEST PACIFIC ARTIST Three Houses Down
PHILLIP FUEMANA AWARD –MOST PROMISING PACIFIC ARTIST Donell Lewis
MANUKAU INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD Herbs
RECORDED MUSIC NZ BEST PACIFIC MUSIC ALBUM Cydel ‘Memoirs of a Midnight Cowboy’
SPECIAL RECOGNITION AWARD Sol3 Mio

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