Is there a Kimbra, Awa Reeder or Jason Kerison tuning their guitar somewhere in a New Zealand high school music room right now? 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.

The veteran nationwide music contest and its sister event Smokefree Pacifica Beats begin today with a launch event 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 ten-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.”

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.

The Nelson heats also kick off on Saturday with bands like Blunt Force Trauma and Slouch Counch among 2500 young people who will compete during May and June in 20 towns from Dunedin to Whangarei in New Zealand’s only nationwide, live, all original, youth music competition.

This year students can enter in the solo/duo section as well as being part of a band; and they can be considered for Smokefree Pacifica Beats at the SFRQ heats if their performance fulfils the required Maori and Pacific elements.

The winner of the solo/duo section will be announced at the regional heats along with the top 12 bands to go ahead to the regional final on Sat May 20 at the Theatre Royal at 7pm.

For all heats, tickets are $10 at the door. Children under six and teachers are free.


For more info check out the Smokefreerockquest website.