The Wellington barbershop quartet the Musical Island Boys have won first prize in an international competition in Las Vegas.
Competing against nine other groups in the finals, the Musical Island Boys were voted first in the international quartet section.
In the previous three years, they had won three second place positions.
Fifty-three groups were competing for the international quarter award this year.
The competition was part of the World Championships in Las Vegas, at the 76th Annual International Barbershop Singing Convention.
The convention was held at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, and was one of the largest conventions ever.
News release from Maori Party
The Maori Party has congratulated four young men on a mission, who in 2002 took up barbershop singing at Tawa College, and tonight took out the Gold Medal in the 2014 International Barbershop Harmony Society competitions in Las Vegas.
“The Musical Island Boys have now demonstrated they are among the best male barbershop quartets in the world” said Hon Dr Pita Sharples. “Matt Gifford, bass (Ngati Kahungunu ki te Wairoa; Tuhoe and Cook Islands), Jeff and Will Hunkin, tenor and baritone (of Samoan/Niuean whakapapa) and Maselusa Washburn, lead (Samoan) have taken our Maori and Pasifika talent to the international stage and have been placed top of the world”.
“These four young men came together at Tawa College, in the fine electorate of Te Tai Hauauru, entered the New Zealand Secondary Schools Young Men In Harmony competition in 2002, and took out the gold then” said Tariana Turia. “They have since gone from strength to strength, thrilling audiences with their acapella harmonies, and competing amongst the top barbershop quartets in the world”.
“Their proudly Pasifika and Maori roots have distinguished them across the globe, leading them to become the first indigenous group to win an international title, in the 2006 World Championship under 25 in Indianapolis and now Gold Medal winners of the 76th annual international barbershop singing convention in Las Vegas “ said Te Ururoa Flavell. “In their winning performance, they sang Po Atarau/Now is the Hour, again breaking records in being the first group ever to sing in a language other than English”.
In Matt Gifford’s acceptance speech, he said, ‘in a world full of turbulence and trouble, if we all sang the world would be a much better place’’.
“The Maori Party congratulates the Musical Island Boys, and the other New Zealand groups represented at the Convention, Vocal FX and the Mission, for singing their way into our hearts, while at the same time sharing the talents of Aotearoa with the rest of the world. They make us all proud” said Mrs Turia.