How it works

Smokefree Tangata Beats is made up of many parts in order to find our overall national winning acts.

In 2020 we adapted Smokefree Tangata beats (alongside Smokefreerockquest) to fit around Covid 19 alert levels and the restrictions around public gatherings. For 2021, all of our live events have been going ahead as planned, we will keep in contact throughout the competition to keep you updated if there are changes to our programmes for any reason.

Keeping that in mind - the stage for the 2021 Smokefree Tangata Beats competition are as follows. Click the button to the right to read more of each section.

STAGE Three - Video submission
STAGE four - national final
STAGE five - The winners

Well, that’s how Smokefree Tangata Beats works this year. Go out there and practice, practice, practice….write, write, write. It will be worth it. It’s better to be prepared…you’ll have a heap more fun. Remember – if you don’t win it’s not the end of the world, some of the biggest names in New Zealand music haven’t won Smokefree Tangata Beats, but they have used it as a time and place to learn, develop, and refine their craft and skills.

Enter Now


Here are a couple of rules and regulations that help 
keep everyone happy and the show on the road.

Got to go to school

All contestants must be enrolled in and attend a school for at least 15 hours a week. If you leave school (sign out) during the course of the competition, you become ineligible to continue. You can change schools during the competition.

Under 19’s only

All contestants must be no older than 19 (nineteen) years of age on Thursday 7th May 2021 ie. you are not eligible if you turn 20yrs old before the 7th May 2021. (you may be asked to supply proof of eligibility).

No signed acts

Smokefreerockquest is for unsigned acts and individuals only. You cannot enter if you have signed a recording or management contract, and cannot sign during the competition without the prior written approval of Rockquest Promotions Ltd.

Read all the rules


There Are Two Categories Within Smokefree Tangata Beats
These are Band + Solo/Duo. Bands compete against bands, Solo/duos compete against Solo/duos. There  are winners and prizes in both categories!


If your SFTBs entry has three (3) or more performers, you must enter the Band Category

Solos / Duos

Solo – If your SFTBs entry has only one (1) performer, you must enter the solo/duo category.

Duo – If your SFTBs entry has two performers, you must enter the Solo/duo category unless one of the performers plays a drum kit, in which case you are to enter as a band.

2020 Band Winner - Jam & Jelly

Online solo / duo

For those acts entering the solo/duos section - you have the option of entering the online region. If you are also entering separately in a band, it is compulsory that your solo-duo entry is submitted online.

After completing your entry form we will email you, along with everyone in each region, with all the information you need so that you have plenty of time to prepare your submission.

There is more info (including a Breaking It Down video looking specifically at Video Submissions for Smokefreerockquest and Smokefree Tangata Beats) further down on this 'How It Works' page.


Kaupapa Smokefree Tangata Beats

Your song or performance MUST feature at least ONE of the four possible cultural elements listed below, and if you’re serious about winning, then your performance should feature two!
This competition is about supporting and promoting our unique Identity in Aotearoa, our Tangata Whenua and the amazing cultures present in our beautiful country.
We want to look at ways to mix our unique identities and cultures with contemporary music and this criteria is our way of encouraging you to try it out.
So, when you’re putting the performance together, writing and rehearsing your songs – try to think about natural ways to include the elements you’ve chosen, don’t just translate the chorus or write an extra verse and tack it on the end – have some fun with it, try some new things… get creative with your songwriting and make something uniquely you!
You must feature AT LEAST ONE of the following elements for your song and performance.

LANGUAGE – More than half of the lyrics to your song are in Te Reo Māori,  and/or a Pacific language.

SOUND – Showcase a traditional instrument from Aotearoa and the Pacific e.g. taonga puoro, drums, ukulele, conch etc.

ACTION – enhance your performance with traditional movement, dance and/or action from Aotearoa and the Pacific e.g. haka, poi, siva, hula, bhangra,  etc.

IDENTITY – a use of topic and/or a style/flavour that reflects Maori and/or Pacific culture in Aotearoa.

Video Submission

Quite a few of you this year will be putting together a video submission.

We are not looking for, or expecting, a music video! The footage should clearly feature you performing, and be easily accessible. It is not intended that this be filmed in a public performance situation. It is more important that you set it up to get the best sound quality you can.

We do not expect studio quality sound, but suggest sound checking the balance to ensure all parts can be heard. Clearfully considering the acoustics of the space you’re recording in can make a world of difference here!

It does need to be a one camera, unedited recording of you performing live with no overdubs or post-recording audio manipulation beyond eq and levels. We do allow electronically assisted live performances - please read those guidelines to make sure you’re following them.

Below there is a Breaking It Down video specifically looking at Smokefreerockquest and Smokefree Tangata Beats video submission requirements - so be sure to check that out!

Live Performance

This year, you have the option to use electronic assistance as part of your live performance in both the Solo/duo category and the band category. This will enable the use of Ableton Live, preloaded looping pedals and other similar supporting technology.

Your lead vocal line (if you have one!) and at least one instrumental part still needs to be performed live.

All programmed/produced material must be the original work of one of the acts’ entrants. If you have a non-performing producer working with you, they must also be an entered member of the act (there is an electronic content producer option in the instrument list), and meet all conditions of entry. (A Duo with a non-performing producer still counts as a duo)

The emphasis of the judging will be primarily on the song and the live aspects of the performance, however credit will be given for how well  the act integrates and manages the technology aspects as well.

Acts should bear in mind the setting they could be performing in, if a Live National Final is possible. There would be limited set up time available, so acts should design and prepare their electronic setup accordingly.


Band Mentoring is thanks to the Ministry of Education.

The purpose of this program is to introduce competing bands to established bands in the industry at the events to help grow knowledge and skill-bases, build networks, and to encourage the musicians of tomorrow. It is an exciting and important part of the Smokefreerockquest event.

A professional band or musician, as part of the Band Mentoring programme funded by the Ministry of Education, is organized by the NZ Music Commission and Rockquest Promotions Ltd to perform at a Regional event as well as sharing information relating to the NZ music industry with all bands entered.

A number of additional performers will be selected to perform at Smokefree Tangata Beats to ensure that the Ministry of Education’s “Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success” and “Pasifika Education Plan” strategies are achieved.