Gold Guitars victory 'a dream come true'

This year's Gold Guitars winner says taking first place in the premier country music competition in Gore was a "dream come true".

Amy Maynard, of Hamilton, came through as a finalist in four sections during the five-hour country showpiece last night, which drew the Tussock Country Music Festival to a close.

Amy Maynard, of Hamilton, celebrates winning the Gold Guitars at the Gore Town & Country Club...
Amy Maynard, of Hamilton, celebrates winning the Gold Guitars at the Gore Town & Country Club last night. PHOTO: RICHARD DAVISON
Her winning performance came in the Gospel section, singing How Great Thou Art.

Maynard, part of a large contingent representing the Gisborne Country Music Club, said she had always placed second in competitions throughout her musical career, making the win extra special.

"It's always been a dream of mine to win this prize, and all that goes with it. I've been on stage since I was 6 years old, so at 36, I finally feel like I'm doing what I should be doing."

Overall runner-up was Gore local Brendan Fairbairn, who was the sole contender in the instrumentalist section.

Fairbairn played a crowd-pleasing harmonica medley and said, after receiving his award, he "could not have played any better".

"To be honest, this was a bit of a bucket list thing for me, just to make the finals. So to be runner-up is a shock. I might be retiring from my Gold Guitars career now."

Gold Guitars convener Phil Geary said he was "very pleased" with the event.

"There's been some brilliant talent across all age groups. I think our winner [Amy Maynard] came here on a mission, and she achieved it."

A capacity crowd packed the Gore Town & Country Club for the event.

Several hundred country fans thronged to the grand finale of the two-week Tussock Country Music Festival, and were treated to a smorgasbord of talent.

Gore instrumentalist Brendon Fairbairn gees up the crowd with his harmonica during the MLT Gold...
Gore instrumentalist Brendon Fairbairn gees up the crowd with his harmonica during the MLT Gold Guitars senior finals in Gore last night. PHOTO: RICHARD DAVISON
Featuring performers in 12 categories from as far afield as Australia, the event delivered its characteristic variety of young and seasoned musicians.

Other prominent local competitors included twin Gore sisters Maegan and Nicola Mitchell.

Nicola was a contender in gospel, traditional and singer/songwriter categories, and also performed with her sister as The Mitchell Twins in the duet, New Zealand song and country rock categories.

This year’s first-prize winner receives a package worth more than $14,000, including cash, instruments, a professional video clip and single, publicity and a spot at the Gore New Zealand Showcase held in Tamworth.

The event attracted record entries of 790 this year, up 24 on the previous record in 2013.

Awards convener Philip Geary said the record number was very encouraging.

"It’s good, very exciting. We enjoy the opportunity of giving people the chance to get on the big stage and show their talents.

"There’s been a very big increase in the classic entries ... that’s gone from 140 up to 220.

"We’ve got a lot more [people] coming from the North Island than we have in the past."

The Gold Guitars started in 1974, and have since grown to form part of the wider Tussock Country Music Festival.

The festival attracts several thousand visitors to Gore each June.

In 2019, it was estimated to generate $1.7 million of economic impact.

Jodi Vaughan inducted 

Earlier, country music legend Jodi Vaughan was inducted into the Gore Country Music Club’s Hands of Fame for 2024.

She placed her hands in "very cold, very wet" concrete at a ceremony yesterday afternoon, held at the Gore Town & Country Club.

Vaughan’s handprint will be placed at Gore’s guitar monument.

Vaughan arrived in New Zealand from Australia in 1974 and quickly became one of the biggest names in New Zealand country music.

She is perhaps best known for her regular appearances on television show That’s Country in the 1980s.

- additional reporting RNZ