The Upper Hutt Posse are to receive this year's Taite Music Prize 2016 Independent Music NZ Classic Record for 1988 release E Tu.
The award aims to acknowledge Aotearoa's rich history of making fine records that continue to inspire us and define who we are.
A panel made up of a broad section of music media/industry specialists decided on the recipients, and the honour is scheduled to be accepted by members of the band later this month.
"It's great for a conscious song of resistance to be respected in this way, and although it already has a firm place in the hip-hop musical history of Aotearoa, this award is somewhat unexpected and therefore a little extra pleasing," says Te Kupu of Upper Hutt Posse (UHP).
"UHP appreciates the regard shown to us, and to all musicians, composers and artists who're compelled to create songs of conscience, ka whawhai tonu tatou!"
UHP formed as a four-piece reggae band in 1985. Since their inception, Dean Hapeta (also known as D Word or Te Kupu) and the Posse have been fighting racial injustice through their music.
In 1988 they released New Zealand's first rap record, the 12-inch E Tu, through Jayrem Records.
The song combined African American revolutionary rhetoric with an explicitly Maori frame of reference, to create a cry of self-affirmation by a new generation. It pays homage to the rebel Maori warrior chiefs of Aotearoa's colonial history, Hone Heke, Te Kooti, and Te Rauparaha.
"E Tu is a hugely important record, both culturally and politically," says Peter McLennan, author, musician and judging panelist.
"It showed local rap fans and budding rappers that we could make this exciting new genre our own, with rhyming in Te Reo and English, and by name-checking local history. Upper Hutt Posse are our hip-hop pioneers, and they opened the gates for the likes of Dam Native, Three The Hard Way, and Che Fu."
The Taite Music Prize 2016 event is held on April 20 in Auckland.
Previous Independent Music NZ Classic Record winners:
2013: Gordons - Gordons (Flying Nun Records)
2014: Various Artists - AK-79 (Ripper Records)
2015: Herbs - What's Be Happen? (Warrior Records)