Pacific Music Awards 2022: Pasifika musicians honored at live event after two years


The band SWIDT and musician Lomez Brown at the Pacific Music Awards last night. Photo/PMA

Some of New Zealand’s most talented musicians have been recognized at this year’s Pacific Music Awards – which were finally able to have a live audience after the pandemic moved the awards online for two years.

At a glitzy event at the Vodafone Events Center in South Auckland last night, hundreds of musicians and fans packed into the arena for a night of musical performances as well as recognition.

Among the big winners was hip-hop group SWIDT, from Onehunga, who took home three main gongs: Best Pacific Group, Best Pacific Hip-Hop Artist and Best Pacific Song for their hit jam. Garage Kelz.

The Kiwi Kings rapper, singer, songwriter and producer was awarded Best Pacific Male Artist and received both the NZ On Air Radio Airplay Award and the NZ On Air Streaming Award for his song. Help me featuring another popular Kiwi band: Sons of Zion.

Tongan Kiwi singer Emily Muli’s sweet voice saw her named Best Pacific Female Artist, while siblings Samson Squad won the People’s Choice Award for Best Pacific Artist. The Phillip Fuemana Special Award for Most Promising Artist in the Pacific went to newcomer Jarna.

Musician, songwriter and producer Kings picked up several awards last night, including Best Pacific Male Artist.  Photo/PMA
Musician, songwriter and producer Kings picked up several awards last night, including Best Pacific Male Artist. Photo/PMA

Australian Samoan rapper Lisi.  Photo/PMA
Australian Samoan rapper Lisi. Photo/PMA

The gong for top Pacific Roots/Reggae artist went to Wellington favorites Tomorrow People; who also won Best Pacific Music Album for his album: 21.

The exciting young Australian Samoan rapper Lisi – whose hits include Good life and say less – deservedly won the award for the best international artist from the Pacific; while fellow first-time PMA finalists Anthem and Sam V won Best Pacific Gospel Artist and Best Pacific Soul/RnB Artist respectively.

Kas Futialo won Best Pacific Language Gong for his hit Grandmasta Kas.

Pacific metal band Shepherds Reign received the inaugural Creative NZ which recognized their contributions to the Pacific music scene; while the first Arch Angel Independent Artist Award went to young artist lilbubblegum.

Lilbubblegum has a mammoth following overseas and its breakout song af1 reached over 20 million streams on Spotify.

A tribute to the best of Samoa

One of Samoa’s most beloved singers – Fa’anana Jerome Gray – received the Lifetime Achievement Award for her truly iconic hit song: We are Samoa.

Fa’anana hit the music scene in 1979 and released an album, Avawhich included the song which quickly became a well-known tune in many Samoan homes.

The track has become something of an anthem for many Samoans, especially overseas, and was played at several Manu Samoa rugby matches in the 1990s, including a match between the All Blacks at Eden Park.

He then performed it for US President Jimmy Carter and Congress in 1980 after being invited by Congressman Eni Fa’aua’a Hunkin Faleomavaega Jr – an acknowledgment of the first Samoan Governor of American Samoa at the time, Peter Tali Coleman.

Many felt that this year’s recipient of the award was fitting, as Samoa celebrates its 60th anniversary of independence.

It was an emotional moment as Fa’anana addressed the crowd via video link; when he revealed he had suffered a number of strokes which left him unable to speak for three years.

He ended his acceptance speech by quoting the line from another iconic song – “What a wonderful world” – by the late Louis Armstrong, whose birthday was yesterday.

The band Brotherhood Musiq then ended the segment with a rendition of the song.

The Lifetime Achievement Award honors some of the Pacific Rim’s best-known artists and musicians who have impacted the world with their music over a long period of time.

In previous years, those honored include the Samoan family band Punialava’a and the late Daniel Rae Costello.