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Powder Chutes donates guitar to MAC

The Wānaka App

13 May 2024, 5:00 PM

Powder Chutes donates guitar to MACPowder Chutes with MAC principal Nicola Jacobsen, co-head of arts Mat Doyle, and Shaunna Wade.

Home-grown Wānaka band Powder Chutes has kicked off NZ Music Month by donating a Gibson Les Paul to Te Kura o Tititea Mt Aspiring College (MAC). 

The guitar was part of the band’s prize when it won the AJ Hackett Bungy NZ (AJHBNZ) ‘Thrash More’ contest in November 2023.

The inaugural nationwide music competition celebrated young (13 to 25 year old) homegrown talent.

Powder Chutes was chosen by Kiwi metal band Alien Weaponry to take the top slot, netting the band members $10,000 ($7,000 of which was for equipment or studio recording time), and $3,000 to donate to their chosen secondary school music department or community music facility. 

Band members Archie Orbell (drums), Clarke West (guitar), Henry McConnell (vocals) and Otis Murphy (bass) are all current or former MAC students.

They said they relished the opportunity to give something back to the MAC music department.


“The band owes a huge amount to [MAC co-head of arts] Mat Doyle and the positive arts culture at MAC,” Henry said. 

“It’s a full-circle moment for us to be able to donate this Les Paul and pay a little bit back to the school that’s done so much for us. The fact that we could do this during NZ Music Month 2024 is the icing on the cake.”

Powder Chutes gave the donation a personal touch by carefully choosing an iconic Gibson Les Paul guitar to present, hoping to provide a legacy instrument that can inspire MAC students for years to come. 

Clarke has long been an exponent of the Gibson Les Paul, and all Powder Chutes’ songs have featured his Gibson ‘gat’.  

After the presentation he strapped on the Gibson Les Paul and Powder Chutes put it through its paces in front of the MAC seniors, playing ‘Gravity’, the song performed (as ‘Spinning’) for which Alien Weaponry selected them as the competition winners.

“We’re massively grateful to AJHBNZ for running such an epic competition,” Archie said. “As well as donating the guitar to MAC, the rest of the prize money instantly helped us to finish recording our debut album… and the fact that it was judged by Alien Weaponry still blows us away.” 

Mat Doyle received the guitar from the band on behalf of MAC.

“We’re immensely proud of Powder Chutes and the profound impact they've made not only within our school but also in the wider musical community. This guitar will undoubtedly ignite inspiration in future generations of MAC musicians,” he said.


Powder Chutes’ debut album is due for release towards the end of 2024. 

PHOTO: Supplied