A teenage thrash metal band, a well-travelled singer-songwriter, and a kapa haka tutor who combines haka with hip-hop are all finalists for the Maioha Award in this year’s APRA Silver Scrolls.
The three finalists in each of four specialist song writing genres: contemporary classical, waiata and music for film and TV have been announced ahead of the Silver Scroll Awards on 28th September.
The APRA Maioha Award recognises the art of contemporary Māori songwriting and honours composers who are telling their stories in te reo Māori. The three 2017 finalists show the diversity of current Māori songwriting.
‘Raupatu’, which also made the top twenty for the APRA Silver Scroll Award, comes from Alien Weaponry - a thrash metal trio fronted by 15-year old guitarist/singer Lewis de Jong.
Lewis and his 17-year-old brother Henry, who plays drums, might look like Vikings but are of Ngati Pikiāo and Ngati Raukawa descent and attended a full immersion kura kaupapa Māori (Māori language school) until they were seven years old, where singing waiata and performing haka were a daily routine.
Their song is about land confiscations by the colonial government. “We were drawn to thrash metal because it’s quite complex music, and it is a great vehicle for expressing real stories and emotions,” says Lewis.
“It also works with Te Reo Māori,” adds Henry. “Both the musical style and the messages have a lot of similarities with haka, which is often brutal, angry and about stories of great courage or loss.”
History is also the starting point for ‘Atua Whiwhio’ by Kingi Kiriona, a tutor and co-founder of the Waikato kapa haka group Te Iti Kahurangi. His song tells of Te Kooti Rikirangi’s prophecy about a whistling god which came in the form of a steam train, and combines elements of haka, poi and rap.
“It’s been thirty years since a kapa haka troop has released a song that’s made it on mainstream airwaves,” says Kiriona. “It would be awesome to have another song like ‘Poi E’ playing in the nightclubs or on mainstream radio with a wider audience listening to it.”
Soulful East Coast singer-songwriter Maisey Rika is the only Maioha finalist this year who has been a previous winner. In 2013 Rika, who has performed extensively in Asia, Britain and the United States, shared the award with co-writers Mahuia Bridgman-Cooper and Te Kahautu Maxwell for their song ‘Ruaimoko’. Her song ‘Taku Mana’ is from her latest album Tira, which includes cameos from Rob Ruha, Hinewhi Mohi and the Modern Māori Quartet.
Also just announced are the finalists for the 2017 SOUNZ Contemporary Award, APRA Best Original Music In A Film Award and APRA Best Original Music In A Series Award.
The SOUNZ Contemporary Award celebrates excellence in contemporary composition. This year’s finalists are Jeroen Speak for Serendipity Fields, Chris Gendall for Incident Tableaux Part One, and Salina Fisher for Torino – echoes on putorino improvisations by Rob Thorne. Speak’s entry Serendipity Fields was premiered last year by NZ Trio.
Gendall, whose works have been performed by the NZSO, the New Zealand String Quartet and the New Juilliard Ensemble, won the 2008 SOUNZ Contemporary Award with his work Wax Lyrical. Salina Fisher, who is about to begin studies in composition at the Manhattan School of Music, New York, was last year’s SOUNZ winner with her piece Rainphase.
Best Original Music In a Television Series
Last year, Mahuia Bridgman-Cooper won the award for Music In A Film with his score for the feature film Mahana and is a nominee this year for his work on the television series Terry Teo. Karl Steven, who won the Music In A Series Award in 2016 for 800 Words is a finalist again for his music in the latest series of the same show. The other finalist in the Series category is Claire Cowan, with her music for Hillary, the dramatised life of Sir Edmund Hillary.
Best Original Music in a Feature Film
The Music In A Film finalists are Marc Chesterman (Spookers), Peter Hobbs (Jean) and Tim Prebble (One Thousand Ropes). Chesterman has worked as a sound designer and composer for short and feature length productions by director Florian Habicht. Peter Hobbs played in Dunedin bands Lesley Speaker and Kitset, set up a recording studio in war-torn Bosnia and has run youth music workshops as well as created original music for film and television. Tim Prebble is a prolific field recordist and sound library publicist in addition to his work as a feature film composer.
The five finalists, whittled down from the 20-strong long-list for the APRA Silver Scroll Award for best song will be announced on Thursday 24 August.