Excitement mounts as Waiata Māori Music Awards finalists named

By Jessica Tyson

A blend of new and established talented artists make up the mix of this year’s finalists for the National Waiata Māori Music Awards.

A total of 18 finalists have been selected across various categories, some competing for multiple titles for the 13th annual awards event.

Former award winners Troy Kingi, Israel Starr and Seth Haapu are back as finalists for the coveted Best Māori Male Solo Artist, along with Lion Rezz, who was a finalist in previous years.

Haapu and Kingi are also finalists in Best Māori Songwriter, Best Music Video by a Māori Artist and Best Single by a Māori Artist categories.

Best Māori Female Artist

The Best Māori Female Solo Artist title will be contested by Taisha Tari, Ria Hall and La Coco. All three are former finalists and guest performers at previous awards events.

Taisha Tari was a winner at the inaugural awards in 2008, for the Best Māori Female Solo Artist title and the Best Māori Song title for her waiata, Karanga.

Ria Hall is also a former award winner, for the Best Video Of The Year by a Māori Artist, in 2012 and has performed as a guest artist at other awards events as well.

La Coco performed as a guest artist at the 2019 awards, treating the show to her RnB, soul, vocal style and 2020 will be her second consecutive year as a finalist for the top award.

National Waiata Māori Music Awards executive director Ellison Huata said she was pleased with the high level of the finalists.

“We would like to thank all of our artists who put forward their work to be considered for this year’s awards. We know it’s been a difficult year for our artists and we hope this event will give people something to celebrate and provide a platform for better times ahead in the coming year.”

Artists assessed online

Independent judges have assessed the work of the artists online, individually, rather than as a group or collective panel. The results were submitted via the internet to the awards administrator and collated.

Judges have been nominated from the music industry, both Māori and pakeha musicians, composers, producers, managers and music organisations.

This year’s National Waiata Māori Music Awards has been moved online, due to the alert levels for Covid-19. The online event will be held on October 9, streamed online via YouTube and the Waiata Māori Music Awards Facebook page.

The 2020 finalists are:

Best Māori Male Solo Artist: Israel Starr, Lion Rezz, Seth Haapu, Troy Kingi.

Best Māori Female Solo Artist: La Coco, Ria Hall, Taisha Tari.

Best Māori Group: L.A.B, Sons of Zion, Te Nūtube. 

Best Hip Hop Album by a Māori Artist: Dharmarat (WLKNZ), Rei (Hoea).

Best Māori Songwriter: L.A.B, Noel Rawiri Woods – Grove Roots, Ria Hall, Seth Haapu,  Troy Kingi. 

Best Music Video by a Māori Artist: Ed Waaka (Revolution), Seth Haapu (Cool Down), Te Nūtube (Pakipaki Mai), Troy Kingi (Ethiopia), Tūtahi (Stay).

Best Pop Album by a Māori Artist: Grove Roots (Marae), Kirsten Te Rito (Te Kaitiaki), L.A.B (L.A.B. III).

Best RnB Album by a Māori Artist: Grove Roots (Marae), La Coco (Grateful), Masaya (Tongue And Groove).

Best Roots Reggae Album by a Maori Artist: Grove Roots (Marae), Lion Rezz (A Lions Worth), Ria Hall (Manawa Wera), Troy Kingi (Holy Colony Burning Acres).

Best Single by a Māori Artist: L.A.B (In The Air), Ria Hall (Owner), Seth Haapu (Cool Down), Te Nūtube (Pakipaki Mai), Troy Kingi (Ethiopia).

Best Te Reo Māori Album: Grove Roots (Marae), Kirsten Te Rito (Te Kaitiaki), Rei (Hoea).