Aaradhna refused an award at New Zealand Music Awards because she felt she’d been “been placed in the category of brown people”.
She had picked up the award for Best Female Solo artist earlier in the night, but it was after being named winner of Best Urban/Hip Hop album for ‘Brown Girl’ that she delivered her serve to the awards judges.
The daughter of a Samoan mother and Indian father, and born in Porirua, she felt lumped into the "urban" category.
Aaradhna said her album’s title track was about her experiences with racism and being placed in a box - and if she were to accept the award, she wouldn’t be true to the song.
"If I were to accept this as an artist, it wouldn't be fair because I am a singer, not a rapper.
"I feel like I've been placed in a category of brown people," she said, before giving her award to Auckland rappers SWIDT.
“I believe that you guys are the future of hip-hop, if you guys keep going. I want to give this to you guys,” she said.
Speaking after the ceremony, Aaradhna said she didn’t want to come off as ungrateful for winning the award. “It’s an awesome win, but of course there’s a more important message and I had to say it. I had to let it out.”
Hearing someone make racist comments at a previous NZ Music Awards event had inspired her to pen ‘Brown Girl’, she said. “There was this guy and my friend heard him shout so many racist things and that’s what pushed me to write this song.”
“I have always dealt with those moments ever since I was young.”
Making her statement at the awards was “me taking pride in my culture. It had to be done. I’ve got to speak my peice,” she said.
BIG HAUL FOR BROODS
Nelson duo Broods won five Tui awards, beating their haul last year by one.
The electro-pop siblings, Georgia and Caleb Nott, won the Tuis for Best Group, Best Pop Album, People's Choice and the coveted awards for Album of the Year and Single of the Year.
They were unable to attend the ceremony because of prior commitments.
Produced and engineered by Grammy-winning Joel Little, Broods' second album Conscious debuted at number one on the charts and features collaborations with Tove Lo and Lorde.
Little won Best Engineer and Best producer for his work on Conscious at last month's New Zealand artisan awards.
Highest Selling Single and the Radio Airplay Record of the Year went to Six60's for their song 'White Lines'.
Operatic group Sol3 Mio won the Tui for Highest Selling Album for the third year in a row, this time winning it for their second album On Another Note.
KINGS won Breakthrough Artist of the Year for his song 'Don't Worry Bout It', which sat atop the singles chart for seven weeks straight.
Other winners include MAALA, who won Best Male Solo Artist for his song 'Composure'; Lawrence Arabia, who won Best Alternative Album for Absolute Truth and Villainy, who took home the Tui for Best Rock Album for Dead Sight. Best Electronic Album was won by Pacific Heights.
International Achievement, won in previous years by Broods and Lorde, this year went to Fat Freddy's Drop, who released their fourth studio album last year.
Rounding off the evening was a performance of Bic Runga's Sway, in honour of her Legacy Award win.
ALL THE WINNERS
Godfrey Hirst Album of the Year: Broods - 'Conscious'
Vodafone Single of the Year: Broods - 'Free'
Best Group: Broods - 'Conscious'
Best Male Solo Artist: MAALA - 'Composure'
Fiji Airways Best Female Solo Artist: Aaradhna - 'Brown Girl'
Breakthrough Artist of the Year: KINGS - 'Don't Worry Bout' It'
Best Rock Album: Villainy - 'Dead Sight'
The Edge Best Pop Album: Broods - 'Conscious'
Best Alternative Album: Lawrence Arabia - 'Absolute Truth'
Best Urban/Hip Hop Album: SWIDT 'SmokeyGotBeatz Presents SWIDT vs EVERYBODY'
Best Roots Album: Winner: Unity Pacific - 'Blackbirder Dread'
Best Electronic Album: Pacific Heights - 'The Stillness'
Te Mangai Paho Best Maori Album: Rob Ruha - 'Pūmau'
Best Worship Album: Edge Kingsland - 'Edge Vol. 3: The Common Good'
Best Classical Album: Anthony Ritchie and Ross Harris - 'Fjarran'
Vodafone People's Choice Award: Broods
NZ Herald Legacy Award: Bic Runga
Vodafone Highest Selling Single: Six60 - 'White Lines'
Highest Selling Album: Sol3Mio - 'On Another Note'
NZ On Air Radio Airplay Record of the Year: Six60 - 'White Lines'
International Achievement: Fat Freddy's Drop
NZ On Air Best Music Video: Chris Lane - 'Inside Out' (Avalanche City)
Best Album Cover: Anns Taylor - 'Absolute Truth' (Lawrence Arabia)
Massey University Best Producer: Joel Little - 'Conscious' (Broods)
Best Engineer: Joel Little - 'Conscious' (Broods)
NZ On Air Critics' Choice Prize: Scuba Diva
Additional Tuis presented in 2016
Best Pacific Album: Te Vaka - 'Amataga'
Best Country Album: The Warratahs - 'Runaway Days'
Best Folk Album: Holly Arrowsmith - 'For The Weary Traveller'
Best Jazz Album: Phil Broadhurst - 'Panacea'
Best Children's Album: Itty Bitty Beats - 'Lay Your Head Down'