The Rockquest is a "battle of the bands" style competition for secondary school bands. It began life as a local Christchurch event in 1988. In 1990 it became a nationwide competition, including Waikato and four other regions. Smokefree began its association with the event in 1991, which has continued ever since. Notable alumni of the competition include Bic Runga (1993), Anika Moa (1998), Evermore (2000), Nesian Mystik (2000) and The Have (2002).
Hamilton bands that have competed at the Rockquest at either a regional or national level include Valhalla (1991 and 1992), Death of a Monkey (1992), No Thrills (1994), Nozzle (1994), Flinch (1998), The Grinners (1998), Diastop (1998), Atomic Garage (1999) and Dinosaurgoesrawr! (2009). Most successful have been Handsome Geoffrey (Hamilton Girls High School), who won the 1998 national event, and The Good Fun (Hamilton Boys/Te Awamutu College), winners in 2010. Others have included Kimbra Johnson (Hillcrest High), who came second in the 2004 finals, Jerihko (Hamilton Girls), third in 2000, and the Seed, third in 2009. Kimbra appears on the Smokefree Rockquest 2005 compilation CD with her song Thoughtful Escape. Also notable are The Braxton Hicks (St. Pauls), who made the top 12 in the 2006 national finals and feature on the Smokefree Rockquest 2006 CD, and Grannypash, who won the "Stage Image Award" at the 2003 national finals.
The national final was held in Hamilton in 2011 and 2012, although no Hamilton bands made it through to the finals in these years.
- Big Night for Rock Fans, Hamilton News, 16 September 2011, p7