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.

In the singles category, Drax Project (‘Woke Up Late’), Unknown Mortal Orchestra (‘Hunnybee’) and Six60 (‘Don’t Give It Up’) are all in the running, together with Mitch James (‘21’), Robinson (‘Nothing To Regret’) and Sons Of Zion (‘Drift Away’).

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Watch Drax Project’s video for ‘Woke Up Late’ below:

This year for the first time, all the finalists will also be eligible for the Vodafone People’s Choice Award, which will be announced on the awards nights, along with the winners in industry categories such as biggest selling single and album, airplay record of the year and international break- through artist.

A number of specialist music categories – folk, jazz, country, etc – have already been announced, while this year’s Legacy Award winner will be revealed on October 11.

Recorded Music New Zealand CEO Damian Vaughan says the success of Kiwi musicians across different genres is a reminder of New Zealand’s diverse, vibrant music scene.

Recorded Music New Zealand CEO Damian Vaughan

“From rock and metal through to reggae, electronica, hip hop and funk, there’s so much diversity in the music being created by Aotearoa’s talented musicians at the moment,” he adds.

This year’s music awards, which will also feature a brand new Tui designed by iconic Kiwi artist Dick Frizzell, will be broadcast live on the free to air commercial network Three.

The full list of nominees are:

Album of the Year

Alien Weaponry –

Julia Deans – We Light Fire

Marlon Williams – Make Way For Love

Six60 – Six60

Tami Neilson – Sassafrass!

Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Sex & Food

Vodafone Single of the Year

Drax Project – ‘Woke Up Late’

Mitch James – ‘21’

Robinson – ‘Nothing To Regret’

Six60 – ‘Don’t Give It Up’

Sons Of Zion – ‘Drift Away’

Unknown Mortal Orchestra – ‘Hunnybee’

Best Group

Alien Weaponry –

Drax Project – Noon

Six60 – Six60

Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Sex & Food

Best Solo Artist

Julia Deans – We Light Fire

Kimbra – Primal Heart

Marlon Williams – Make Way For Love

Tami Neilson – Sassafrass!

Breakthrough Artist of the Year

Drax Project




Te Māngai Pāho Best Maori Artist

Alien Weaponry


Troy Kingi

The Edge Best Pop Artist

Drax Project



Best Alternative Artist

Marlon Williams

Unknown Mortal Orchestra

Wax Chattels

Best Soul/RnB Artist

Israel Starr

Troy Kingi

Vince Harder

Best Hip Hop Artist




Best Roots Artist


Sons of Zion

Tomorrow People

Best Electronic Artist

Arma Del Amor



Best Rock Artist

Alien Weaponry

Cairo Knife Fight

Skinny Hobos

Best Worship Artist

EFKS Te Atatu Junior Youth Choir

Equippers Revolution

Kane Adams

Best Classical Artist

Eve de Castro Robinson

Henry Wong Doe

Michael Houstoun