Smokefree Rockquest & Pacifica Beats Launches for 2016

May 6th 2016
Is there a Kimbra, Awa Reeder or Jason Kerison tuning their guitar somewhere in a New Zealand high school music room? If so Smokefreerockquest is out to find them - just as they did back in the day for these famous names in the Kiwi music industry.

Thursday 12 May 2016, Dorothy Winstone Centre, Auckland Girls Grammar

The veteran nationwide music contest and its sister event Smokefree Pacific Beats begin next week, with a launch event on Thursday (May 12) at Auckland's Dorothy Winstone Centre. Spokesman Matt Ealand, chair of the Smokefreerockquest Trust, says this year's launch is all about students and teachers.

"We're inviting all entrants and teachers from Auckland and other northern centres (and those willing to travel) to an evening that will give them all the info they need to perform at their peak, along with aspirational input to help them succeed, with performances from last year's winners," he said. "It's really quite a different focus from our usual launch events which have been for music industry and education leaders."

The bands booked to play reinforce the links between the two contests and include 2015 Smokefreerockquest winners, Joe's Van from Tauranga; Smokefree Pacifica Beats 2015 winners Reciprocate from Manukau and 2014 winners Strangely Arousing from Auckland. There will be mentors speaking before the show and a barbecue afterwards.

Sheldon Rua, keyboardist from Reciprocate says there have been huge benefits to the 10 piece funk-soul band from winning Smokefree Pacifica Beats, and he encourages any younger students thinking of entering to 'just go for it'.

"It's an awesome opportunity for any young people making music to get it out there and to represent your school," he says. "It brought our band really really close, you never know who is in the audience, and it's just a whole lot of fun which is what making music is all about."

Cormac Seymour the lead guitarist from Mount Maunganui psychedelic rock trio Joe's Van, says the threesome are taking a gap year to make the most of the opportunities offered by their win: "The whole ride has been such a valuable experience - it's given us a foot in the door of the music industry," he says. "We had six years in Smokefreerockquest and it was a whole lot of fun - you meet heaps of people and have an all-round good time."

The regional events for both Smokefreerockquest and Smokefree Pacifica beats run from May 13 until July 2, with the top regional bands and solo/duos submitting video footage for selection to play off at 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.The first heats are in Auckland. The North Shore heats are on Friday May 13 start time 4.30pm; then on Saturday 14 May Auckland Central play off from 11am, followed by Manukau at 3.30pm. All events are at the Dorothy Winstone Centre at Auckland Girls' Grammar. Tickets are $10 at the door, children under six and teachers are free.

The events have national winners' prize packages for bands and solo/duo winners that include $25,000 in Rockshop vouchers, $30,000 worth of NZ On Air recording, video and promo package' a 'Decent Exposure' campaign on EdgeTV, 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, the Smokefree Women's Musicianship Award, the Dominate Hair Style Award and the People's Choice voted by text with the opportunity to open the Smokefreerockquest national final.

Musical successes from Smokefreerockquest over its 27-year history include Broods, Leroy Clampitt, Kimbra, Aaradhna, Opshop, Evermore, Ladyhawke, Kids of 88, Die!Die!Die!, Joel Little, Tiny Ruins, Cairo Knife Fight, Brooke Fraser, Anika Moa, Kora, Thomston, Midnight Youth, Steriogram, Phoenix Foundation, Devilskin, The Black Seeds, Bic Runga, and The Naked and Famous; Smokefree Pacifica Beats standout successes include Nesian Mystik, the only New Zealand band to ever have ten singles all certified gold or platinum.

Smokefreerockquest - 27 years of musical success: Smokefreerockquest is New Zealand's only nationwide, live, original music, youth event. The series of over 30 events provides young musicians with the opportunity to perform live in a professional setting, in venues from Northland to Otago. Smokefreerockquest 2016, powered by Rockshop, aims to motivate young musicians to prove their abilities, to realise the opportunities available in music careers, and to encourage their peers to support 100 percent original New Zealand music. The original founders Glenn Common and Pete Rainey were honoured with the MNZM in 2013, and continue to lead the team that now runs this New Zealand institution. For more information visit

Smokefree Pacifica Beats: Smokefree Pacifica Beats recognises and reflects the unique cultural identity of Aotearoa New Zealand and the Pacific. Participants must incorporate Maori/Polynesian language, instruments, dance or movement in their performance. The event motivates young musicians to prove their ability with cultural relevance, and to encourage their peers to support 100 percent original Aotearoa Kiwi music. For more information go to

Smokefree 2025: Smokefree has been the naming rights sponsor of Smokefreerockquest for 25 of its 27 years. This sponsorship plays a huge part in the youth Smokefree strategy. Both Smokefreerockquest and Smokefree Pacifica Beats provides the opportunity for youth to connect and engage with the concept of a Smokefree life. This year, young people will be asked to think about the benefits of being smokefree and get more involved in helping New Zealand become smokefree by 2025.




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