Tim Randle, the Head of Music at Manurewa High School is probably slightly biased, but his passion for his students and his school is infectious.
"Honestly, I think Manurewa is the cultural capital of New Zealand. There are so many cool things happening here and goodness me if we could share that, that's great.
"Sure there's some negative stuff, certainly economically there are people struggling, but there are some fantastic things coming out of Manurewa and if we can help represent that to the rest of New Zealand, that's cool."
It's the day before the national finals for Smokefree Pacifica Beats and Tim Randle's students are putting the finishing touches on their performances. In the last six years, Manurewa High has produced nine finalists at the competition, a record he is proud of.
"To have these events, especially one with a cultural criteria, that's ridiculously cool. It allows us to put people on professional stages, in front of audiences with sound and lighting - we just can't [normally] do that. I can't provide that opportunity for my students and the fact that you've got people out there making sure that happens is terrific."
Nicola Nimo is one of the lead vocalists for the school's band 'Blessed' and says despite it being exam time for many of the students, each of them loves being part of the competition.
"It's so great, there are so many people influencing in this school in terms of music, we all help each other it's a really good environment to learn and to help each other get where we want to go in music."
Blessed are essentially a funk band, with brass section and three singers and their music is upbeat, fun and about the joy of making music.
In contrast, Makayla Eli who is in the finals for the duo category along with Lakam Vuna writes more personal songs, one of which ('Southside') is about the way South Auckland is portrayed in the media.
"It was ... based on some of the events that were happening around South Auckland at the time ... there were quite a few fights and I saw us on the news ... [and] I just figured that a lot of people may try and label us that way, so I thought I'd come up with a song that highlights that that is not what represents South Auckland as a whole."
Tim Randle is quick to highlight that he shouldn't be credited for sentiments like this surfacing in his students' songs.
"Hopefully that's in part because we're doing some cool things here but a lot of it I think is just having really cool students."
UPDATE: Blessed placed second in the 2017 Pacifica Beats final. Full winner details:
- 1st placed band: Jubilee, Aorere College, Auckland
- 2nd placed band: Blessed, Manuwera High School, Auckland
- 1st placed solo/duo: Rose Campbell, Wairoa College
- MAINZ Best Musicianship Award, tuition fees valued at over $4000: Soakai Malamala (synth, brass, keys), Jubilee, Aorere College
- Smokefree Mana Wahine Award, $1000 cash: Samantha Booth (vocals), Mellow, Gisborne Girls' High School:
- Best Vocals Award, $1000 cash: Lisha Anitelea, Evile Laloata, Sholita Umutaua, Proud Brown, Heata Community Campus & Mairehau High School
- NZ Music Commission Best Song Award, $500 cash: Fuzhun, Shirley Boys' High School, Christchurch
- Native Reo Award, $500 cash: Te Urewera, TKKM o Huiarau, Ruatahuna