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Finalists announced for the 2019 Maioha, SOUNZ, and Screen Awards

Story Published Monday 19 August 2019
2019 Maioha Finalists

Some of New Zealand’s best songwriters and composers have been shortlisted for four prestigious awards to be presented at the 2019 APRA Silver Scroll Awards.

The APRA Maioha Award, the SOUNZ Contemporary Award – Te Tohu Auaha, the APRA Best Original Music in a Feature Film Award and APRA Best Original Music in a Series Award will all be presented at Spark Arena in Auckland on Wednesday 2 October.

APRA Maioha Award

The APRA Maioha Award recognises the art of contemporary Māori songwriting and honours composers who are telling their stories in the language of Te Ao Māori.

2019 finalists:

  • Ka Ao by Tyna Keelan, Angelique Te Rauna, and Matauranga Te Rauna
  • Korimako by Emily and Charles Looker, performed by Aro
  • Paiheretia by Kaaterama Pou
  • Te Kete Aronui by Mara Te Kahika and Cory Champion, performed by Mara TK

There were more entries than ever before for the 2019 APRA Maioha Award, and the judges found it hard to choose just three finalists, so this year we have four.

All are first time finalists aside from Tyna Keelan (Ngati Porou, Ngati Rongomaiwahine, and Ngati Kahu) who took home Te Ngore when he won the Maioha Award in 2011 for his work Ko Koe. This year Tyna has teamed up with newcomer Angelique Te Rauna and her uncle Matauranga to write Ka Ao, which is a beautiful piano ballad about finding self-confidence and following dreams.

Also newcomers, Emily and Charles Looker (also known as Aro) are recognised for their song Korimako this year. Blending Emily's smooth voice with Charles' full throated percussive sound with shades of haka, Korimako is a warm, upbeat waiata from their debut album Manu – a bilingual album released on Waitangi Day which is inspired by our native birds.

Kaaterama Pou (Ngāpuhi, Te Arawa) was inspired by gospel for her finalist song Paiheretia, from her debut EP Shine Your Light. Having impressed judges at the Waiata Maori Music Awards, winning the Best Emerging Artist prize in 2017, she’s now garnering attention by addressing indigenous and environmental issues through her music.

The son of Māori psychedelic rock legend Billy TK – Mara TK (Ngai Tahu, Ngati Kahungunu, and Tainui) is a finalist for his brand new work Te Kete Aronui, alongside drummer Cory Champion. It’s a soulful ballad infused with modern beats and various shimmering string parts, looking for faith and wisdom.

SOUNZ Contemporary Award - Te Tohu Auaha

The SOUNZ Contemporary Award celebrates excellence in contemporary composition.

2019 finalists:

  • ogee by Chris Watson
  • Violin Concerto by Chris Gendall
  • Violin Concerto Sama by Michael Norris

All three of the SOUNZ Contemporary Award finalists this year are former winners of the award, and all three are also violin concertos.

Chris Watson wrote ogee while based in Dunedin in 2008 but finally had the recording completed and released last year. Recorded by violinist Justine Cormack and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the work is inspired by the ‘ogee curve’, which is an S-shape found in mathematics (the sigmoid curve), fluid mechanics and architecture. The shape, imagined tilted over so that it's near horizontal, was a starting point for the main melodic idea deployed in this violin concerto.

Chris Gendall describes every part of writing his just-premiered Violin Concerto as a ‘joy’ and credits his collaborators, violinist Mark Menzies and the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra for helping him to craft a work which was “inspired by the hazy way we remember other music, how they can distort and transform in our memories” and written with Menzies extraordinary musicality in mind.

Michael Norris (2018’s award winner) describes violinist Amalia Hall’s incredible talents as a key motivation for his work Sama. He wanted to give Amalia scope to show off her expressive power, ethereal delicacy and dazzling pyrotechnics, as he worked to explore spiraling musical processes which drew inspiration from the Sufi ceremony of Sama – in which dancers whirl around the space in ecstatic devotion while also keeping one foot anchored to the ground. Their trancelike spinning, which is a remarkable visual spectacle, acts like a conduit between the vast realms of earth and sky.

APRA Best Music in a Series Award

2019 finalists:

  • Joel Haines for The Brokenwood Mysteries
  • Karl Steven for The Bad Seed
  • Mike Newport for Alibi

APRA Best Original Music in a Feature Film Award

2019 finalists:

  • Karl Steven for Bellbird
  • Mike Newport for Mega Time Squad
  • Steph Brown and Fen Ikner for Daffodils

Despite having a record number of very high quality entries in both screen award categories this year, the work of Karl Steven and Mike Newport made it into both categories, along with outstanding work from stalwart screen composer Joel Haines, and newcomers Steph Brown and Fen Ikner.

Karl has been a finalist several times since the awards were first handed out in 2014, and this year is recognised for his composition on two very different screen works. The Bad Seed is a dark mystery series based on books by Charlotte Grimshaw, requiring a bold score evoking the murky worlds of New Zealand politics and power. In contrast, Bellbird is a heartfelt film telling the story of friendship and tragedy in a rural community, with a beautifully fresh and nuanced soundtrack.

First time finalist Mike Newport is also a finalist for two contrasting works. Intriguing, dramatic mini-series Alibi saw Mike making a suitably tense score for a series of interrogations, while his composition for time-travelling heist film Mega Time Squad is a romping, fun-fuelled, 80’s-inspired piece.

Joel Haines has composed thousands of film and TV soundtracks for over two decades, making the soundtracks for many favourite Kiwi dramas like Outrageous Fortune and Westside. This year he’s a finalist for his gentle, inventive work, on the whimsical murder mystery series The Brokenwood Mysteries.

Auckland composer and songwriter Stephanie Brown is often know as her alt-pop persona LIPS (and won the 2012 Silver Scroll Award with her song Everything to Me), but is also making a name for herself as a screen composer, alongside multi-instrumentalist music producer Fen Ikner. They’re recognised for their substantial work in helping to transform bittersweet romantic Kiwi musical Daffodils from stage to screen, and creating an appropriate world in which many classic Kiwi pop songs can sit alongside drama and storytelling.

All awards will be presented during a ceremony at Spark Arena in Auckland on Wednesday October 2nd 2019. As a part of the celebrations, APRA will also be inducting a songwriter/s into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame.


The awards are proudly supported by Hallertau Brewery, and Soho Wines.