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SRN Awards Celebrate Rising Aotearoa Stars

The second Student Radio Network Awards showcased musical acts that dominated airwaves across the nation as well as regional favourites.

Rubi Du.

On Saturday, the second Student Radio Network Awards looked back on the year in music, showcasing breakout musical acts that had dominated airwaves across the nation as well as regional favourites. Hand-picked by the program directors of each radio station, the award winners displayed the breadth and diversity of musical taste across the country.

Hosted by Radio One in Dunedin, the stage at the University of Otago was drenched in the kaleidoscopic projections of Wellington-based video artist Erica Sklenars, aka Lady Lazer Light. The show featured live crosses to the watch parties across the nation to hand out regional awards as well as broadcast acceptance speeches from those who were unable to make the trip down to Dunedin.

The crowd was lively and jovial at SaltBox Studios in Christchurch, where RDU’s home brew, the RDBru Champions IPA, was dispensed from taps attached to chilly bins—the name a “tip of the hat” to the Christchurch brewery Three Boys’ own win of Champion New Zealand Exhibitor at the New Zealand Beer Awards, according to station manager James Meharry.

Hans Pucket won Favourite Group, fulfilling RDU Sheep Technique host Matt Slaughter’s prophecy made in Rolling Stone on Friday. In typical form, Hans Pucket absorbed their win dispersed across the country. Callum Devlin and Callum Passel were watching at the bFM party in Auckland, while Oliver Devlin, the only band member based in Wellington, was with the RadioActive crew. Devlin found it amusing that although the award ceremony did a live cross feed to Auckland, his two bandmates “tried to hand it over to me to say thanks because they were as surprised as speechless as I was.”

“Anyone could have won really,” Devlin said. “It’s a wild time to be releasing music in this country, there is so much good music.”

Mokotron’s TAWHITO EP took out the spot for Favourite EP/Mixtape. The producer behind Mokotron, who prefers to remain anonymous, was clearly nervous upon accepting the award. “I was sure Wiri Donna was gonna win this, so I didn’t plan anything for this,” they said before jokingly accepting the award on behalf of fellow nominee Violet French. “I talked to her before the awards and she was going to the opera tonight ‘cause she clearly thought she wasn’t gonna win, and I said, ‘Well, if you win, I’ll claim your award, on my behalf.’” And then they did.

Reggae and dancehall MC Rubi Du was awarded Favourite Solo Act. It was the first award ever for the artist, who says she was surprised by the win—both “in shock” and “very ecstatic”—because she “has never been mainstream”. “It lets me know I’m doing something right.”

Favourite album went to The Big Fresh Collective’s FOOTMAHI 2022, whose curator/mastermind Liam K. Swiggs celebrated from SaltBox Studios. He said the win signified a long-deserved shift in attention towards the underground dance music scene in Aotearoa, which he felt had been previously unrepresented in the award. “I think we all deserved it: a huge cultural reset!”

Te KuraHuia was anointed the winner of the People’s Choice Awards, which was voted on by the SRN audience through October and November. Her visual album, UHA, debuted in June at the Wairoa Film Festival, where she earned the moniker “Maori Beyonce”.

Fazerdaze’s “Come Apart” won Favourite Single, but the artist was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.

The awards for favourite song, which were voted on by the staff of each station, showcased the wide diversity of regional taste. Clear Path Ensemble’s jazzy instrumental “Absolvo” was the selection of the Radio Active staff in Wellington, while hard breakbeat “Cone Creek” by CONES was the choice at Radio Control in Palmerston North, just two hours up the road.

The Student Radio Network also collated their top 10 lists to highlight the most played songs across the nation throughout the year, providing another plethora of names to keep in mind.

#1. WHO SHOT SCOTT – “Loners Anthem”

#2 Amamelia – “Love Is Useless feat. Junny”

#3 Skymning x Totems – “On My Job”

#4 Erny Belle – “Burning Heaven”

#5 Mokotron – “Tawhito”

#6 Power Nap – “Out Of The Pit”

#7 Human Susan – “Double Dutch”

#8 Recitals – “Rock Dove”

#9 Welcomer – “Cicadas 3”

#10 Junus Orca – “Prophet Of Blindness and Vision”