Recorded Music NZ today announces three outstanding Best Folk Artist finalists to be celebrated at the 2019 Auckland Folk Festival on 27th January.

Two-time Best Folk Artist winners Great North join Jono Heyes and The Frank Burkitt Band as the 2019 finalists.

Over the last eight years Great North have cemented themselves as one of New Zealand’s hardest-working and most accomplished independent acts, playing gigs in bars, halls and tin sheds from Auckland to Okarito.

Between shows, they released three albums, two of which – Halves and Up In Smoke – won Folk Album of the Year at the New Zealand Music Awards in 2013 and 2015 respectively. They’re nominated this year for the album The Golden Age.

Hailing from Livingstone in Central Otago, Jono Heyes began teaching himself to play guitar at the age of 17. Over the last 17 years he has crafted his style, drawing from an array of cultures to create a blend of world music that is an urgent call for ecological, social and cultural understanding.

His 2017 record 9 Pilgrims was released in October and features a number of musicians from across the world – including Ireland, Switzerland and the Czech Republic where he currently lives.

Inspired by artists such as Van Morrison, James Taylor, Tim O’Brien and Pokey LaFarge, The Frank Burkitt Band play high energy, original music written by Frank Burkitt and arranged by the band.

Releasing their second album Raconteur in March 2018, The Frank Burkitt Band have made incredible progress in the last four years after releasing their debut album Fools & Kings in 2015, becoming a festival favourite throughout New Zealand.

The band tour extensively and the first six months of 2019 will see them tour New Zealand, Australia and the UK, supporting the release of their new live EP Lost but Alive.

Recorded Music NZ chief executive officer Damian Vaughan says that while all the finalists are different, they share the resounding quality that shines through with all great folk albums.

“This year’s finalist line up is outstanding and really highlights the wealth of talent in New Zealand’s folk music scene. We’re thrilled to recognise these musician’s achievements from the last year and look forward to seeing the next steps in their creative careers.”

The Auckland Folk Festival is held over Anniversary Weekend in January, with the Best Folk Artist Tui presented on the Sunday evening.  Tickets are available from



Recent previous winners of the Tui for Best Folk Album

  • 2013 – Great North – Halves
  • 2014 – Tattletale Saints – How Red Is the Blood
  • 2015 – Great North – Up In Smoke
  • 2016 – Holly Arrowsmith – For The Weary Traveller
  • 2017 – Guy Wishart – West By North
  • 2018 – Albi & The Wolves – One Eye Open


Finalists’ websites

Jono Heyes:

Great North:

The Frank Burkitt Band: