Nominated for: NZ Music Commission Best Pacific Male Artist MPG/SAE Best Producer Apra Best Pacific Song
Victor J Sefo’s iconic jam 685 did something only the greatest of songs can do - unite a people based around the world and stir national pride for their motherland: Samoa. Released in September last year, the song quickly turned into an unofficial anthem for Samoan rugby league fans everywhere, as their beloved Toa Samoa team moved through the competition and went from being the underdogs to tournament favourites. Sefo, also a talented producer, produced the hit himself. Featuring fellow Samoan artists Poetik and Biggs 685, the hit could be heard blasting from speakers at Samoan fan parades around the world and namely in Auckland, Australia, Samoa and the US. It was also not uncommon to flick through social media posts on TikTok, Instagram and Facebook and hear “685 on your speakers” seemingly on repeat. At one point, the song earned a top 10 spot in the iTunes NZ charts alongside Sam Smith and Beyonce. Following 685’s huge success, Sefo teamed up with Australian-based Samoan artists Lisi and Mwayz to release 685 Remix, which debuted at the number 11 spot on YouTube’s trending music chart.
Nominated for: Flava Best Pacific Group Best Pacific Roots/Reggae Artist
South Auckland’s finest Three Houses Down has long been a favourite group among reggae and music fans in New Zealand and around the Pacific.
In 2022, the boys returned to the studio with the mindset to release something that was reflective of the times and the pandemic that had turned the world upside down and brought so much uncertainty and suffering.
'The Dream' was born - a song with a smooth and easy-listening melody that works to uplift the listener with lyrics such as: “To everyone that’s suffering, it’s gonna be alright. It’s gonna be alright. Reach out and touch somebody. Reach out and hug someone today. We need to come together - show one love. Everything will be alright.”
The song features Pacific legendary singer Fiji and Kiwi artist Troy Kingi, whose rap in te reo Māori offers another aspect to the track that is uplifting and encouraging in a uniquely Kiwi way.
Edward Ru is a New Zealand-based reggae artist known for his infectious grooves, positive vibes, and energetic live performances. The band was formed in 2004 by a group of friends who shared a love for reggae music and wanted to create music that would inspire and uplift audiences. Ed’s music is characterised by his unique blend of roots reggae, dub, and dancehall, which he infuses with his own New Zealand flavour. His lyrics are often uplifting and optimistic, promoting messages of love, unity, and positivity. Since his formation of his band, Sweet & Irie have released several successful albums and singles, including "This Is Us," "People," and "Feels Like Magic ." He has also performed at many festivals and events throughout New Zealand and have toured internationally, including in Australia and the Pacific Islands. Sweet & Irie's Ed Ru’s live performances is a high- energy experience, he’s known for his engaging stage presence and infectious rhythms. Ed Ru has become one of New Zealand's most popular reggae acts, and his music has helped to promote reggae music and culture throughout the country. In addition to his music career, Ed Ru is also known for his philanthropic work, including supporting various charities and initiatives that help to improve the lives of people in need. He is committed to using his music as a force for positive change and inspiring audiences to make a difference in his communities.
Nominated for: Flava Best Pacific Group Recorded Music NZ Te Pukaemi Toa O Te Moana Nui A KiwaBest Pacific Music Album
The merging of different genres and sounds has afforded STNDRD the freedom to explore different sounds and build upon their already diverse catalogue. J Yannis and Leo are of Samoan descent and were all born and raised in Ōtara, South Auckland, and they attribute much of their musical influence to both their heritage, and their home.
Bursting onto the scene in 2020 with just their second ever release My Uso, STNDRD then collaborated with Pasifika heavy hitters Lisi, Masi Rooc, BIGGs 685 and Ron Moala to create the My Uso (Remix). The remix became an anthem for Pasifika people worldwide during Covid lockdown, and has amassed over 6.6 million streams on Spotify and over 7.6 million views on YouTube, solidifying its place as a timeless classic in the Polynesian music scene.
STNDRD also released their debut album Jukebox in September 2022 with support from NZ On Air, pivoting from their previous urban rap/soul sound to an RnB-influenced 12 track project. Their lead single from the album also titled Jukebox which features NZ R&B superstar Sam V went viral on social media with both local and international influencers sharing the record. Jukebox has over 1 million streams/views across all platforms in well under one year since release.
In 2022 STNDRD performed at the inaugural Promiseland in the Gold Coast, followed by what was supposed to be One Love in January 2023 which was cancelled due to the weather. STNDRD however still performed alongside Island Reggae Legends Fiji, J Boog, Kolohe Kai + more at Hamilton's Factory venue as a Replacement show for One Love.
STNDRD now look to 2023 and beyond as they continue to challenge themselves and continue to explore different sounds on their journey to releasing organic and authentic music.
Nominated for: NZ Music Commission Best Pacific Male Artist Best Pacific Soul/Rnb Artist MPG/SAE Best Producer APRA Best Pacific Song
25-year-old Sam V is no stranger to turning heads, eyes and ears with his distinctive vocal talent and showman energy.
The 2022 Best Pacific R&B/Soul award winner saw somewhat of a breakout 2022, achieving his first national awards, national tour and international recognition through notable collaborations with STNDRD, SWIDT, Kennyon Brown, Poetik, Victor J Selo & more. Having emerged on YouTube at the tender age of 11, these were pivotal moments in the ascension of Auckland City's very own city boy; Sam V.
'The one, the lonely EP' and consequent national tour afforded Sam V the opportunity to establish himself as the premier rising R&B talent of New Zealand, cemented with his recent international booking at Promiseland 2023.
Not one to shy away from the spotlight or pressure, Sam V is a name worth keeping tabs on as he looks to continue sharing his talent with the world.
Rei’s on a mission to mix tradition with the modern. His upbeat multi-genre sound always gets listeners pumping and leaves them feeling culturally empowered. Add in modern kapa-haka sounds, te reo Māori and high-end electronic production, and you have something unique to the Australasian music scene.
Rei’s (Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Pākeha) music seamlessly bridges urban and electronic, with elements of hip hop, pop and dance flavors. With over 10 million Spotify Streams, 6 Waiata Māori Awards and 4 NZ Music Awards nominations, Rei is carving out his space in the world.
His most loved tune ‘Good Mood’ hit #1 on the US Viral 50 Chart on Spotify and has racked up over 5 million streams.
Rei was awarded Best Māori Urban album at the Waiata Māori Music Awards 4 times (2022, 2020, 2017, 2015), Best RnB (2022) and Best Music Video for The Chief’s Speech in 2016.
His albums were finalists for best engineer at the 2017 and 2018 NZ Music Awards and he was a finalist for Best Māori Artist and Best RnB Artist in 2019, and the Mana Reo Award 2021. ‘Hiwa-i-Te-Rangi’ with Maisey Rika was also a top 5 Silver Scrolls finalist in 2021. Rei also was awarded Best Emerging Manager in 2018 at the Music Managers Awards with Chris Chetland (Kog Studio).
Other notable achievements: Collab with AU DJ Friendless ‘Sign Me Up’ hit #20 on UK Cool Cuts Chart MTV Australia’s Indigenous artist of the Moment (2020). Collaborations with Friendless, Lee Mvthews, Maimoa, Sean Richards, PT, Shayna, Sweet Mix Kids, Maisey Rika, Baitercell and many more.
Olivia Foa’i is a singer, songwriter, dancer and director. Since 2010, she has been the lead female vocalist and dancer for acclaimed Polynesian band - Te Vaka; having toured with them to nearly 40 countries. In 2016 her voice was featured throughout Disney’s Moana soundtrack, including the opening song over the iconic Disney castle – “Tulou Tagaloa”. At the World Premiere of Moana, Olivia (alongside father Opetaia Foa’i and Te Vaka band members) performed songs from the movie before introducing the Hollywood audience to the film for the first time. In 2018 Olivia sang the role of "Moana" in the Te Vaka/Moana Orchestra tour accompanied by the Symphony Orchestras of Dunedin, Christchurch and Wellington. Olivia released her debut solo album Candid in 2019. An 8-track bilingual Pop record with strong Pacific influences, collecting the Tui for “Best Pacific Album” at the Aotearoa Music Awards and “Best Female Artist” at the Pacific Music Awards 2020.
Punialava’a is a band that needs no introduction. The iconic Samoan group has been offering smooth island sounds and poetry through song and music since the late 1960s, when founder and composer Rev Lale Peteru established the family band. These days, a new generation of the aiga behind Punialava’a is continuing the legacy; performing new songs and material written by their father. After the heartbreak of the 2019 measles epidemic in Samoa - which saw the majority of cases and deaths being young children - and the devastating Covid-19 pandemic, the band released its heartfelt album last year, expressing the pain and tears of a nation: Tagi Le Atunu’u. The lead single in the album was dubbed Suga! La’u Penina, produced by Mase Josh Mase and band member and son Nanai Viellani Lale Peteru. Wanting something different for this particular song, the end result is a roots reggae sound that is reflective of where it was mixed and mastered - Jamaica.
Nominated for: Matai Watches Best Pacific Hip Hop Artist Recorded Music NZ Te Pukaemi Toa O Te Moana Nui A Kiwa Best Pacific Music Album
Born in Aotearoa, but raised in Apia Samoa, the world got its first taste of POETIK on his three independently released street albums The Ambassador, For The Ville, and Poetikly Done. His Hamofied ep debuted at #1 on Itunes New Zealand Hip Hop chart in 2017, followed by Hamofied 2 at number 2 in the Top 20 NZ Albums in 2019. POETIK’s debut album Poetik Justice reached number 1 in the official Top 20 NZ Albums in the first week of launch in 2021. The latest EP Hamofied Tre is also a number 1 on Top 20 NZ Albums charts upon debut in November, 2022. Making for 2 back to back chart topping releases.
Known for his strong, independent opinions on racism, Polynesian culture, mainstream media and for putting Samoan Hip Hop on the map, Poetik (real name Ventry Parker) has brought a distinct Pasifika blend to his 90s West Coast flows. With awards taken out for 2018 Philip Fuemana Most Promising Pacific Artist Award and 2020 Best Pacific Male Artist, he has been acknowledged through numerous nominations including Best Pacific Male Artist, Best Pacific Hip Hop, Best Roots/Reggae artist (Runtingz Family) and Peoples Choice across 2019/20.
His background is a testament to his strength and drives him to consistently rep himself, his fans and his sound. Not afraid to speak the truth about the struggle of poverty, alofa, aiga, the hood, culture, racism, street violence and the devilish side of the music industry, and what it takes to come out ahead.
Nominated for: Auckland Council Best Pacific Female Artist SunPix Best Pacific Language NZ On Air Best Pacific Music Video APRA Best Pacific Song
Olivia Foa'i is a New Zealand-born Singer/Songwriter, Director and Dancer (Tokelauan, Tuvaluan and British heritage). Although an artist in her own right, she is also known as a member of the internationally acclaimed Polynesian band, Te Vaka, and for her vocals featured throughout Disney's "Moana" soundtrack (Tulou Tagaloa, Logo Te Pate, Know Who You Are...). In 2019 Olivia released her debut solo album "Candid" to glowing reviews and collected awards such as "Best Pacific Album" in the Aotearoa Music Awards and "Best Female Artist" in the Pacific Music Awards 2020. She writes in English and Gagana Tokelau and her sound is distinctly influenced by a love of the Pacific region, blending ancestral sounds with a strong appreciation for contemporary Pop/R&B. Late 2023 will see the release of her sophomore album featuring the 2022 singles "Sunlight" and "Myriagon (No Photos Please)".