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Finalists announced for the 2023 APRA Maioha Award, SOUNZ Contemporary Award, and Screen Awards

Story Published Friday 11 August 2023

Some of New Zealand’s finest songwriters and composers have been shortlisted for four awards to be presented at the 2023 APRA Silver Scroll Awards | Kaitito Kaiaka.

The APRA Maioha Award, SOUNZ Contemporary Award | Te Tohu Auaha, APRA Best Original Music in a Feature Film Award, and Best Original Music in a Series Award will all be presented at Spark Arena in Auckland on Wednesday 4 October.

APRA Maioha Award

The APRA Maioha Award recognises the art of contemporary Māori music and honours songwriters who are telling their stories in the language of te ao Māori. This year's finalists are a beautiful representation of the expansion of our bilingual music industry, highlighting a new generation of waiata reo Māori champions, while also showcasing the power of collaboration.

2023 finalists:

  • ‘E Tama’ written by Hamiora Tuari, Ani Piki Tuari, Tame Tuari, Tatana Tuari, Matt Sadgrove, performed by Tuari Brothers
  • ‘Me Pēhea Rā’ written by Mohi Allen, Hēmi Kelly, Amy Boroevich, Noema Te Hau III, performed by MOHI
  • ‘Raumati’ written by Jordyn Rapana translated by Te Kuru Dewes, performed by Jordyn with a Why

‘E Tama’ is the inspiring waiata written by siblings the Tuari Brothers (Hamiora, Tame, and Tatana), Ani Piki Tuari, and Matt Sadgrove. ‘E Tama’ encourages important values of manaaki tāngata (kindness), whakapono (faith), tūmanako (hope), and aroha (love). ‘E Tama’ comes from their debut EP Rongo released in December 2022. Watch the music video directed by Jarred Leith and filmed at Pouawa here.

Neo soul artist MOHI has been voted as a top 3 finalist for his heartfelt waiata ‘Me Pēhea Rā’ co-written and produced with Amy Boroevich (HINA), Noema Te Hau III, and Hēmi Kelly. ‘Me Pēhea Rā’ is MOHI’s most intimate offering to date, and touches on the complexities of love; from falling in love, to falling out of love and everything in between. Watch a live performance video for ‘Me Pēhea Rā’ here.

First time Maioha finalist, Jordyn Rapana AKA Jordyn with a Why, celebrates the release of Raumati’ with the help of Te Kuru Dewes. “Raumati is a salute to Hineraumati, the Atua wahine of Summer,” Jordyn shares, “It’s about all the senses of Summer – recognising the symbols of our favourite season.” Watch the official video for ‘Raumati’ here.

SOUNZ Contemporary Award | Te Tohu Auaha

The SOUNZ Contemporary Award | Te Tohu Auaha is New Zealand’s premier composition award, celebrating excellence in contemporary composition. All three composers are first time finalists for this award and are a wonderful reflection of the variety of issues and topics which contemporary composers are seeking to address in emotive and inventive ways.

2023 finalists:

  • Mycelium by Nathaniel Otley, for Bass Flute, Trumpet, Percussion, Electric Guitar, Keyboard, Violin, Cello, and Contrabass
  • No ro hunu ake by Joshua Pearson, for choral ensemble
  • Requiem by Victoria Kelly based on poetry by Bill Manhire, Sam Hunt, Ian Wedde, Chloe Honum & James K Baxter - for Soprano, Tenor, Choir and Orchestra

Ōtepoti, Dunedin composer, conductor, and violinist Nathaniel Otley is a first-time finalist for his composition ‘Mycelium’. Nathan says that Mycelium is inspired by the networks of fungal threads that connect individual mushrooms into larger organic communities, these communities vary but it is underground where they really excel, growing into staggeringly large, vibrant, and interconnected fungal networks; it is these ideas of vibrant interconnectivity that are explored in this piece, with ideas forming, reforming and resonating in a multitude of different, at times unexpected, ways.

Joshua Pearson is an Aotearoa born Sāmoan composer, specialising in vocal and instrumental music and sonic arts/electroacoustic music under renowned composers Eve de Castro-Robinson and Leonie Holmes, and sonic artist John Coulter. As a first-time finalist for the SOUNZ Contemporary Award, his nominated composition is a politically and environmentally charged choral work, activism against climate change of the Moana islands (Polynesia, Micronesia, and Melanesia). It highlights body percussion, ritualistic elements, vocalisations, callings, and protest gestures and sounds.

Award-winning composer Victoria Kelly works across a broad spectrum of musical genres including contemporary classical, film and popular music. As an arranger and performer, she has collaborated with a wide range of artists including Neil Finn, Tami Neilson, Finn Andrews / The Veils, Don McGlashan, Anika Moa, SJD, Moana Maniapoto, and Shapeshifter. Victoria says that with Requiem she set out to create a transient space where time is suspended. In Māori mythology, a veil (te ārai) separates the living from the dead. Sometimes the veil is permeable. One of the pathways through the veil is mist, another is music.

APRA Screen Music Awards

These two awards recognise the work of our composers that lend their expertise to film and series. Screen writers have the often challenging task of defining the tone, illuminating the story, supporting the characters, and enriching the experience for the viewer, all while remaining unobtrusive and working within the constraints of the production - whether that's a documentary, a drama, or a light comedy. This year’s finalists cross a wide range of styles and genres, in both local and international productions.

APRA Best Original Music in a Feature Film Award | Tohu Pūmanawa

2023 finalists:

  • Mark Vanilau for A Boy Called Piano - The Story of Fa'amoana John Luafutu
  • Cam Ballantyne for Nude Tuesday
  • Karl Sölve Steven for The Subtle Art of Not Giving a #@%!

APRA Best Original Music in a Series Award | Tohu Paerangi

2023 finalists:

  • Tom McLeod for Blood, Sex, & Royalty
  • Mahuia Bridgman-Cooper for The Gone
  • Claire Cowan for Under The Vines

First time nominee, Mark Vanilau is recognised for his work on A Boy Called Piano - The Story of Fa'amoana John Luafutu. Known as one of Aotearoa’s most respected musicians, Mark composed and performed the score for the development season of the play directed by Nina Nawalowalo and Jim Moriarty, presented by The Conch in 2019. Mark went on to create the original score for the award-winning feature documentary of the same name. It has been screened at 14 national and international film festivals and won multiple awards. More recently, Mark was celebrated at the 2023 Pacific Music Awards, presented with the Ministry for Pacific Peoples Special Recognition Award for this soundtrack.

Cam Ballantyne is another first-time finalist for his work on Nude Tuesday. Cam is a Screen Composer/ Sound Designer and Music Producer who has worked as a full-time professional composer in Los Angeles, New York & Sydney and now runs music production company Beatworms. Nude Tuesday is a film spoken entirely in an improvised, gibberish-esque language with subtitles. Filmed in picturesque Makarora in the South Island, it stars Jackie van Beek, Damon Herriman and Jemaine Clement.

Karl Sölve Steven is no stranger to the Tohu Pūmanawa, having successfully won the award in 2021, 2019, 2017 & 2016. Karl is a multi-award-winning New Zealand/Swedish composer who returns as a finalist this year for his work on The Subtle Art of Not Giving a #@%!. The film is based on the bestselling book of the same name by Mark Manson and has been turned into a brutally honest self-help documentary.

Tom McLeod has been a finalist multiple times for APRA Screen Awards, working across everything from environmental documentaries to historical dramas, and has twice won the APRA Best Original Music in a Series award for TV comedy Girl Vs Boy. This year's nomination is for Netflix series Blood, Sex & Royalty, a modern take on the British royal drama, cut with contextual commentary, and offering a window into the lives of history's most iconic monarchs.

Mahuia Bridgman-Cooper has a strong connection with the APRA Silver Scroll Awards, as a previous winner of the APRA Best Music in Film Award in 2016 and Maioha Award in 2013 and another four nominations over the years. Mahuia is composer/producer who has produced, composed and performed for a variety of artists, including L.A.B, TEEKS, Tom Scott (Avantdale Bowling Club) Lawrence Arabia, Maisey Rika, Electric Wire Hustle, The Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and more. The Gone is a TVNZ series about an Irish detective teaming up with Kiwi cop to find an Irish couple who have vanished from a rural New Zealand town.

2017 APRA Best Music in Series Award winner, Claire Cowan is hailed as one of New Zealand’s most exciting composers. Seven prime-time TV soundtracks, multiple "Best Original Score" national awards, several Composer Residencies, and two full length ballets commissioned from the Royal New Zealand Ballet. Even the pop-music scene with collaborations with names like Benee, Marlon Williams, Leisure, Tami Neilson, and Julia Deans. In 2021 Claire was awarded “Best Classical Artist” at the Aotearoa Music Awards. Claire has written for two seasons of Under The Vines, a romantic comedy starring Rebecca Gibney and Charles Edwards broadcast on TVNZ.

All awards will be presented at Spark Arena in Auckland on Wednesday 4 October.

With thanks to NZ On Air, Te Māngai Pāho, and Hallertau.