Announcing the Aotearoa Music Awards

Written by on September 25, 2020

This week marked the launch of the Aotearoa Music Awards, introducing a new era for Recorded Music New Zealand’s annual music awards.

Developed by creative agency LIKEMINDS in collaboration with specialist Māori concept and creative studio HAUMI, the Aotearoa Music Awards reinterpret what it means to be a Kiwi musician and artist.

Recorded Music NZ Kaiwhakahaere o Ngā Tohu Puoro o Aotearoa Sarah Owen says the decision to rebrand the awards aligns with continued efforts over the years to recognise Aotearoa’s tangata whenua and Te Reo Māori as the first language of New Zealand, as well as the importance of Te Ao Māori in our lives.

Aotearoa is a land of diversity and stories, evoking people to share their experiences with us through music. Our artists are kaihanga of one of our greatest treasures – the music and songs that defines our lives,” says Owen.

With the renaming to Aotearoa Music Awards and the kaupapa behind that, we are taking another step in bringing the awards back to the core of what they’re for: to celebrate, support and encourage the creative journeys of all our recording artists.

LIKEMINDS founder and creative director Damian Alexander says the Aotearoa Music Awards acronym “AMA” (pronounced ah-mah) is an intentional reference to Te Ao Māori. We are embedding and acknowledging the indigenous culture of Aotearoa and the environment from where our musicians can flourish and prosper.

An ama is the outrigger used to support waka during voyages across the ocean. In the same way, that Recorded Music NZ and the Aotearoa Music Awards support and celebrate New Zealand musicians and their work, as well as the support of the wider creative industry in Aotearoa,” says Alexander.

We worked with Tiki Taane and Laughton Kora to create a bespoke musical score for the rebrand to bring the awards firmly back to the true resonance of this place we call home.

In addition to the new name and identity, the format of this year’s event will reflect the importance of music and the wider community in times like these.

The finalists and performers for the Aotearoa Music Awards will be announced on Thursday 8 October.

The event will be taking place Sunday 15 November at Spark Arena and will be broadcast live on Edge TV, Three and ThreeNow.

In addition to the 20 Tui awarded on the night, multiple inductees will be welcomed into the NZ Music Hall of Fame | Te Whare Taonga Puoro o Aotearoa – honouring and celebrating our beloved musicians, past and present.

Recorded Music NZ CEO Damian Vaughan is pleased to announce the event will also be taking on a new form this year, with a renewed focus on the musicians and their craft.

“This November, we intend to not only honour and celebrate the spectacular music released over the past year but also highlight the incredible and important work of many of the individuals, organisations and initiatives throughout Aotearoa that are using music to unite and heal communities.

“We are honoured to shine a light on many of these organisations and their activities including our long-time awards charity partner MusicHelps, but also others such as Crescendo, Raukatauri and Girls Rock Camp who are using music to help our music whanau and heal our communities in this time of uncertainty.”

“The inaugural Aotearoa Music Awards will be an intimate reflection and celebration of the year that was and tell the stories of how our music community has navigated this unique and challenging year.”

About Recorded Music New Zealand: Recorded Music NZ is a non-profit industry representation and licensing organisation for recording artists and their labels. It divides its services into three main areas. The Member Services team delivers projects including the Aotearoa Music Awards, the weekly Official NZ Top40 Charts and the Music Grants programme. Recorded Music NZ’s licensing division administers broadcast and public performance licensing either directly or through its joint initiative with APRA called OneMusic. The Pro-Music team is dedicated to protecting and promoting the interests of artists and labels across the New Zealand recording industry.

 About the Aotearoa Music Awards / Nga Tohu Puoro o Aotearoa: The Aotearoa Music Awards are owned and hosted by Recorded Music NZ and produced for Recorded Music NZ by Mediaworks.

 About MusicHelps: MusicHelps uses the power of music to help & heal New Zealanders in need. The charity develops & supports a wide range of programmes that use music to help people who are at risk, vulnerable and experiencing health issues. The charity has made projects possible at youth organisations, hospices, schools, medical charities, rehabilitation centres and more all-over New Zealand. MusicHelps also provides caring, confidential & practical support to kiwi music workers experiencing illness, distress & hardship.

Through its “MusicHelpsLive” appeal this year, the charity has provided over 500 emergency grants to individuals and music businesses whose livelihoods have been shattered by the Covid-19 crisis. It also provides vital support including medical treatment, counselling and hardship assistance to kiwi music people and their families in times of crisis.


LIKEMINDS is a creative studio built on the belief that great things happen when like minds come together and is founded by Damian Alexander and Noel Blackwell. A broad and open minded practice that blends design, film, animation, technology, music and selfless collaboration.

 About HAUMI

HAUMI is a specialist Māori concept and creative studio led by Karl Johnstone (Founder, Rongowhakaata, Te Aitanga-a-Mahaki, Ngai Tamanuhiri) and Joe Pihema (concept lead, Ngāti Whātua).

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