It was a big weekend for the 20 finalist acts competing in the national finals at the culmination of the 2018 Smokefree Rockquest and Tangata Beats competitions. And, as it turned out, the weekend of a lifetime for Tim Randle who teaches music at Manurewa High School in Auckland – and the band that borrowed his name in order to complete the competition entry forms.
An eight-piece version of Mit Eldnar placed first in the Tangata Beats final on Friday night, then repeated that win as a five-piece band for the Rockquest final on Saturday, September 22. The Rockquest-winning band members were singer and guitarist Sonatane Kaufusi, with Finau Fulivai on drums, TJ Televava (keys), Wayne Guttenbeil (bass) and commanding electric guitarist Joseph Oti-George.
Celebrity judge Chris Mac of Six60 commended Mit Eldnar as the ‘most complete band’ on the night.
“Sonatane is a very impressive frontman – you could put these guys on the touring circuit now,” he said. “Their arrangements were sophisticated and they listened to each other with maturity.”
In numeric contrast the second placed band was a dynamic duo, the brilliantly named Suggested Serving Size. Songwriter / guitarist Lachlan Oosterman and drummer Matt Church are from Te Awamutu College.
Nelson maintained its outrageous run of Rockquest successes with the winner of the solo-duo category being judged to be singer/guitarist Estella Romagnoli from Nelson College for Girls.
NZ On Air’s Jeff Newton said the solo-duo category finalists were “…without doubt the best ever”. The judges agreed Estella was a standout, despite being an acoustic guitar playing songwriter up against two electronically-assisted performers – Verdon College’s Sam Cullen and Gretel Donnelly of Rangitoto College. The national People’s Choice Award winners proved to be The Subs from Christ’s College in Christchurch.
2018 saw the Smokefree Rockquest celebrating its 30th year with an impressive record of over 760 entries played off in town halls from Invercargill to Whangarei.