Bella Shand performing on her way to take out the solo category of the Smokefreerockquest heats. Photo: Supplied.

Bella takes out Rockquest solo


Annesbrook Church was the scene for Nelson’s up-and-coming musical talent on Saturday.

The top 12 bands were selected for the Smokefreerockquest regional final on Friday 24 May, and the top two Nelson solo/ duo acts were named for the opportunity to go ahead to the event’s national final.

The top Nelson solo-duos are Bella Shand from Motueka High School, who came first, and Brooklyn Scott and Tim Fahey from Garin College, who came second.

Currently in year 11, Bella says she cannot remember a time before she was singing and playing guitar. This is her first year participating in Smokefreerockquest.

“I didn’t expect to win at all, but my music teacher encouraged me, so I pulled something together,” says the 15-year-old. “It was definitely a pleasant surprise and a really good feeling”

The Smokefree Tangata Beats Award went to acoustic trio ‘In Conclusive’ from Waimea College and Nayland College, who now submit footage to be selected for that event’s national final.

Founder and Director Pete Rainey says while Smokefreerockquest is a competition, the environment throughout the nationwide series of events is hugely supportive, with the emphasis on participation.

“Between now and the regional final, the work participants will put in to prepare for the next stage is a big part of what make Smokefreerockquest and Smokefree Tangata Beats such valuable learning experiences,” he says.

“The solo-duo acts going into the video submission round, and the bands going into their regional final will need to practise hard, and make good use of networking opportunities and social media to promote themselves and their achievements. For a lot of students these steps can be part of their NCEA assessments.”

At the Nelson final there will be awards for the top three bands, the MAINZ Musicianship Award, Best Song, Best Vocal, the APRA Lyric Award, and the ZM People’s Choice voted by text.

The top regional bands and solo-duos submit footage for selection as finalists to play off at the Smokefreerockquest national final at the Bruce Mason Centre in Auckland on Saturday September 14, followed by the Smokefree Tangata Beats national final on Saturday September 21.

The top 12 bands play off at the Nelson regional final at the Theatre Royal, on Friday 24 May, start time 7pm, tickets from the Theatre Royal or TicketDirect.