2019 Smokefreerockquest and Smokefree Tangata Beats Kicks Off In May!


Smokefreerockquest 2019 kicks off on Saturday, 04 May in Nelson, the hometown of the nationwide original music competition. Around 2500 entrants participate every year in a series of regional heats and finals in centres from Invercargill to Whangarei, hoping to make it as a national finalist to play off in Auckland this September.

Entering its fourth decade this year, Smokefreerockquest is recognised as the launching pad for many great kiwi musicians, with a legacy that includes names from Kimbra to Alien Weaponry, and from Marlon Williams to Broods. The competition has seen many changes in technology and musical trends over the years. Founder and Director Glenn Common says that an ethos of development and confidence building has always reminded central to the programme.

“To perform live on stage is a great boost in confidence, and it requires a lot of skills, not just ability,” he said. “For a significant number, it will be their first live gig, while some may have been working towards this moment for a number of years."

Smokefreerockquest is all about the opportunity to perform live rather than just about winning.

Last year’s solo-duo winner 17-year-old Estella Romagnoli from Nelson College for Girls says that participating in the programme changed her relationship with music.

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“It really taught me to be confident in my ability as a musician, cheesy as it sounds,” said the songwriter who performs simply as Estella. “Being at the final surrounded by incredible musicians really intimidated me at first, but after I got over myself a bit I realised how much more fun you have when you just appreciate the talent around and within you, as everyone is there because they love and are good at the same thing.”

Estella is now in Year 13 at Nelson College for Girls and is entering Smokefreerockquest again this year with her band Equinox.

Smokefreerockquest and Smokefree Tangata Beats 2019 launch on May 4 with heats in Nelson, followed by more heats and finals in 21 regions over the next two months.

The top two solo/duos will be selected at the heats; and along with the top two bands selected from each regional final, they go into the judging pool for the national final.

Smokefreerockquest, powered by Rockshop, has national winners’ prize packages for bands and solo/duo winners that includes $22,000 in Rockshop vouchers, $16,000 NZ On Air recording, video and promo package, a photo shoot and branding package from Imaginary Friends. There is also the Musicianship Award, the APRA (Australasian Performing Right Association) Lyric Award, Rockshop Electronic Performance Award, Best Song Award, and Smokefree Vocals Award.

Musical successes from Smokefreerockquest include Broods, Marlon Williams, Robinson, Fazerdaze, Drax Project, Six60, Leisure, Opshop, Evermore, Ladyhawke, Joel Little, Tiny Ruins, Brooke Fraser, Anika Moa, Chelsea Jade, Nadia Reid, Die!Die!Die!, Leroy Clampitt, Aldous Harding, Steriogram, Phoenix Foundation, Skinny Hobos, Kimbra, Aaradhna, The Black Seeds, Bic Runga, and Balu Brigada. Smokefree Tangata Beats standout successes include Alien Weaponry, Strangely Arousing, and Nesian Mystik, the only New Zealand band to ever have ten singles all certified gold or platinum.

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Smokefreerockquest – Over three decades of musical success: New Zealand’s nationwide, live, original music, youth event stages over 40 events giving young musicians the opportunity to perform live in a professional setting, in venues from Whangarei to Invercargill. Smokefreerockquest 2019, powered by Rockshop, aims to motivate young musicians to strive for success, to realise the opportunities available in music careers, and to encourage their peers to support original New Zealand music. The 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 Tangata Beats recognises and reflects the unique cultural identity of Aotearoa New Zealand and the Pacific. Participants must incorporate Te Reo Māori or a Polynesian language, instruments, dance or movement in their performance. The event motivates young musicians to express themselves with cultural relevance, and to encourage their peers to support original Aotearoa Kiwi music. For more information go to

Smokefree has been supporting young Kiwis to showcase their passions for music for close to three decades. Thousands of musicians have hit the stage and many have gone onto to do epic things on national and global levels. Being the naming right sponsor of Smokefreerockquest gives another platform to show the benefits of a smokefree lifestyle and how smoking really does not have a place in young people’s bands or their world. Smokefree recognises that today’s musicians and artists will play a huge role in shaping New Zealand’s future as we head towards the goal of Smokefree 2025.

Written By: Radio13