At RQP, we are committed to creating opportunities for rangatahi nationwide to participate in a high-quality arts experience and develop their skills. We are an innovative Aotearoa owned and operated organisation that exists to serve creative youth and their communities.
Each year we reach over 10,000 students, 30,000 audience members and hundreds of thousands of online viewers and streamers. We estimate that 150,000 students have been involved in our programmes since our inception. Smokefreerockquest launched in 1989, and ever since then we have worked hard to create programmes that challenge, inspire and support creative youth across a wide range of the arts. Over 30+ years Smokefreerockquest has become an institution for young musicians, with a well-documented and profound impact on the NZ music industry. The inspiration for the very first event came when founders Pete Rainey and Glenn Common saw the benefit in a platform for high school students to play live on a professionally equipped stage, expressing their talent and creativity all while developing their musicianship and performance skills. Smokefree Tangata Beats was then developed in 1998 to recognise and support performances & performers that reflect the unique cultural identity of Aotearoa and the South Pacific, followed by Rockshop Bandquest launching for junior students in 2012.
With the support of the Ministry of Education, Showquest was developed as the leading performing arts platform for students in 2017, and our wearable art platform Toi joined the Showquest lineup in 2020.
We were thrilled in 2018 to be recognised with the TVNZ Marketing Award for Best Use of Sponsorship, for our work with Health Promotion Agency & Smokefree.
Due to ongoing effects from Covid-19 across the creative sector, we have recently been focusing on platforms that can be run remotely or wholly online, increasing our reach with isolated and vulnerable communities and giving students options when events may be unable to proceed. Short filmmaking challenge OnScreen and photography platform Stills launched in 2021 and have been going from strength to strength.
Our goal at RQP is to create multiple opportunities for all ākonga around Aotearoa to be involved in a creative endeavour - across art, photography, dance, drama, filmmaking, music, technology and textiles. These positive experiences develop confidence, leadership skills and a passion for the arts within students ages 5-18.
The benefits of being involved with an RQP programme extend far beyond the reach of a one-day event. We work year round with the educational community to develop webisodes, mentorship opportunities, workshops, recording sessions, resource videos and NCEA integration support.
RQP is NZ’s largest provider of creative arts opportunities outside the classroom, with an unparalleled reach across Aotearoa and an engaged network of teachers, students and whānau.
We have a small, highly skilled and dedicated team that brings their diverse skills together to create world-class events. Above all, they love music and are passionate about supporting young rangatahi in finding their passions. With over 100 years of collective experience in the events and music industry, we are confident in our abilities to recognise the needs of young artists and create events and opportunities that meet these needs.
RQP founders Glenn Common and Pete Rainey were honoured with the New Zealand Order of Merit for Services to Music in 2013, and continue to lead the team that now runs this New Zealand institution from offices in Nelson and Auckland. In 2021, Pete and Glenn were recognised for their contributions to New Zealand music through the Independent Spirit award at the Taite Music Awards awards. The award was granted to them for their contributions to music via Smokefreerockquest, celebrating “33 years of motivating young musicians and helping them to develop their talent and creativity, musicianship, and performance skills.”
We are a vital part of the music development ecosystem. Our team is continually learning and up-skilling to be able to keep up with the fast-paced industry.
Our wider community extends to the New Zealand music industry, where we work with APRA, Recorded Music NZ, promoters, producers, recording labels, and radio and TV networks. Dubbed our Hall of Fame, musical successes from Smokefreerockquest over its 30+ year history include Broods, Kimbra, Aaradhna, Opshop, Evermore, Ladyhawke, Kids of 88, Die!Die!Die!, Joel Little, Tiny Ruins, Marlon Williams, Brooke Fraser, Anika Moa, Chelsea Jade, Nadia Reid, Aldous Harding, Steriogram, Phoenix Foundation, Devilskin, The Black Seeds, Bic Runga, and The Naked and Famous.
Past entrants remain part of our community and continue to come back and support the next generation going through the Smokefreerockquest experience - lending their time and experience through judging, mentorship, performance and resource creation. “Looking back on the enormous changes in education, music, and kids' lives in this time, and then to look forward to the future… Well, none of us knows what this will hold. But we do know that the arts in education play a huge role in helping our young people to face the future with a set of skills that give them flexibility, creativity, ability to cooperate and work in groups. Skills they can apply in life wherever it takes them.” Pete Rainey, founder
Relationship & Event Coordinator
Youth Development Manager