Last night's Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards recognised breakthrough Māori talent in the New Zealand music industry, not only within the Māori Artist category but in mainstream awards categories as well.
From first time nominee to inaugural winner of the Best Māori Artist Award. Te Karehana Gardiner-Toi is honoured with a haka and takes home a Tui at this year's Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards.
"I'm feeling really ecstatic, I'm still shaking a little but I'm just so happy."
During his acceptance speech, Gardiner-Toi paid tribute to his musical guides including Maisey Rika, who withdrew herself from the awards in support of upcoming Māori talent in the industry.
Joining him in the first time winners club is Best Roots Artist, Israel Starr who is pleased to see Māori music and artists making their mark in mainstream catergories.
"It's just a blessing to see our culture and our people being on that level."
Best Pop Artist nominee, Theia, surprised everyone, breaking out in fluent te reo Māori on the carpet, giving credit to her Māori culture for her passion and love for music.