Kāpiti bands steal the show

Ōtaki reggae band Te Paamu has taken first spot at the Wellington regional Smokefreerockquest, with the musicians now setting their sights on the national title later this year.

The band, a four-piece made up of students from Ōtaki’s Te Kura Kaupapa o Te Rito, Te Kura-a-iwi o Whakatupuranga Rua Mano, and Porirua’s Aotea College, was judged best on the night at the Wellington Town Hall.

They beat 15 other finalists from around Wellington and the Hutt Valley, including three-time veterans Jomba, from Paraparaumu College, and fellow newcomers Chelsey, from Ōtaki College.

It was a big night for the Coast’s bands, with Chelsey scooping the People’s Choice award and fourth place.

Te Paamu guitarist Te Whaiao Manga, 17, of Te Kura Kaupapa o Te Rito, said the band had shown a few nerves before they hit the stage.

“At the start we were real nervous. We had seen Jomba go on and they were awesome, but as soon as we got on stage we were amped.”

The group consists of Te Whaiao on guitar, keyboardist Rongotai Bevan, 16, of Te Rito, drummer Matariki Styles, 17, of Porirua’s Aotea College, and singer Carne Doyle, 16, of Ōtaki’s Whakatupuranga Rua Mano.

Te Paamu, which means “the farm” in te reo, has been together for about a year, and regularly practises in a shed on Te Whaiao’s uncle’s farm in Ōtaki.

Te Whaiao said he thought their performance of two original songs Breakout and Cassanova were a bit below their best, but he still believed they had a chance at doing well.

“As soon as I heard we weren’t third or second I thought ‘oh no’, but then we heard our name, I was rapt as stoked.”

Judge James Gibb one of last year’s Rockquest finalists said Te Paamu were definitely the standout band on the night, especially in terms of their togetherness and natural stage presence.

“Their style of music can become really big in New Zealand and it can do well commercially. They have a really good future ahead of them.”

Judges rated the groups on a number of categories including uniqueness, presentation, energy, musicianship and creativity.

Last year Te Paamu finished second in the national Smokefree Pasifica Beats music competition in Auckland, but were keen to try the Rockquest this year as it was more widely advertised.

They now have to create a 15 minute DVD of themselves performing. The bands that create the eight best DVDs will go on to the national finals, to be held in Hamilton in September.