The early running in the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards – aka The Tuis – is being made by both mainstream chart-toppers and more left field acts.

Nine-time winners Six60 and Drax Project – who are being tipped to become the country’s the next big international breakout act – are both finalists in four of the main categories in the NZ music industry’s premier awards event.

However, internationally renowned indie act Unknown Mortal Orchestra – led by US-based Kiwi Ruban Nielsen – and Te Reo Māori metal mavens Alien Weaponry have also bagged four nominations apiece.

All four are contenders for the best group statuette, with three of them also facing off in the best album category: Alien Weaponry received the nod for their debut , UMO for their fourth studio Sex & Food and Six60 for their third self-titled EP; under the awards criteria, an EP with a running time of more than 25 minutes can be counted as an album.

NZ Music Awards Tui trophy designed by Dick Frizzell.
NZ Music Awards Tui trophy designed by Dick Frizzell

The other nominees in the best album category are Marlon Williams – who received three nominations in total – for his internationally acclaimed Make Way For Love, Tami Neilson for her soul-infused Sassafrass! and Julia Deans for her second full length LP We Light Fire.

The latter three will also go head to head in the best solo artist category, with Kimbra the other finalist for her latest album Primal Heart.