The Mint Chicks and Hollie Smith were the big winners at the 42nd annual New Zealand Music Awards, held last night at Auckland's Aotea Centre.

Both acts snared three gongs at the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand event, which was sponsored by Vodafone and is known locally as the Tuis.

Garage punk act the Mint Chicks was the surprise package at an event, which tends to be dominated by mainstream acts. They won for best group while their Flying Nun album "Crazy? Yes! Dumb? No!" picked up the album and rock album gongs. Sam Peacocke took best music video for the album's title track.

Soul singer Smith, whose debut album "Long Player" was released on her own EMI-distributed label Soundsmith, returned home from her current base in New York for the event. The trip was worth it: she took best female artist, breakthrough artist and Aotearoa roots album.

Other multi-award winners were Warner Music's Evermore, who took out single of the year with "Light Surrounding You" and the international achievement award; and Sony BMG's Brooke Frasier, who took the airplay record of the year for "Deciphering Me," and whose "Albertine" was the year's biggest selling local album.

The Tuis were not restricted just to new talent. Split Enz founder Tim Finn won best male solo artist for "Imaginary Kingdom" (EMI/Capitol Music NZ).

This year's event also saw the RIANZ honor pioneering Kiwi rocker Johnny Devlin, who received the legacy award and became the second inductee into New Zealand's Music Hall of Fame.

In tribute, a specially-formed local "supergroup," The New Devils -- comprising Jon Toogood (Shihad), Shayne Carter (Dimmer), Paul Roper (The Mint Chicks) and Mike Hall (Pluto) -- performed their own rendition of Devlin's biggest hit "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" at the ceremony.

All the multi-award winners performed live sets, as did Atlas, whose "Crawl" (Element Music) won the biggest selling single award.

Other winners were: Opshop (EMI/Capitol Music NZ), who got the people's choice award; half-Samoan political activist PNC's "Rookie Card" (Dirty Records/ Warner) for best urban/hip hop album; and drum and bass outfit Shapeshifter's "Soulstice" (Kog Transmission).

Campbell Smith, RIANZ chief executive, says the awards salutes a healthy local industry which has new talent breaking through.

The gala was televised live on the free to air music-oriented channel C4.

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