Fijian artist Ju Ben is crowned winner of Pacific Break 2023


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Hip hop and reggae artist Peni Tupou Roqara, known as Ju Ben, has taken out Pacific Break 2023’s top prize with his track Sema Mai, beating a record 366 individual song entries from across the Pacific.

Listen to Sema Mai here:

The 25-year-old sugar cane machine operator from Lomainasau, in Tailevu Province, Fiji, will now go on to perform at WOMADelaide, Australia’s largest international music festival in March 2024.

Ju Ben’s music infuses contemporary musical genres with traditional storytelling methods and his lyrics, delivered in iTaukei language, discuss social issues including mental health and politics. Ju Ben’s winning song, Sema Mai aims to inspire young people to overcome life’s challenges by staying positive.

According to Ju Ben: “Sema Mai has a deep meaning behind it, and it speaks mainly to young individuals like myself, encouraging them to have a positive mindset and to surround themselves with others who motivate and support them.”

Ju Ben’s passion for music began at high school when he started writing poetry and was introduced to hip hop music by his cousin. He cites “old school rappers” such as Tupac and Redman as his musical influences. Ju Ben is also part of the VT1S, a Fijian music collective and movement, and performs regularly in the local music scene.

Pacific Break 2023’s judging panel was composed of WOMADelaide Associate Director Annette Tripodi, PNG-born Australian artist Ngaiire, Australian hip hop artist and producer and host of ABC Radio Australia’s In The Fale Hau Latukefu, host of ABC Radio Australia’s Island Music Rick Howe, and Samoan-Australian music journalist and host of ABC Radio Australia’s On The Record and Pacific Sundays Sosefina Fuamoli.

The judges unanimously awarded Ju Ben first place for his musicality, passion and versatility. They also commended the high quality of artists overall this year, with triple the number of artists entering this year’s competition compared to 2022.

Sosefina Fuamoli said: “Ju Ben stood out for his optimism, his natural talent as a performer, and the versatility of his sound and I look forward to seeing him at WOMADelaide next year. However, there were a lot of artists who could have easily owned the stage there and I hope to see them return to the competition next year. If anything, it has proven that music in the Pacific is thriving right now, and this is so exciting.”

Rick Howe added: “Ju Ben is a unique rapper telling stories in iTaukei with flawless flow and diction, layered with soulful island vibes from the Pacific.”

Annette Tripodi said: “It was wonderful to see such a diverse and strong field of applicants from across the Pacific this year. It was no easy task to decide the winner, but I was struck by Ju Ben’s positivity and flow, I liked his hip-hop, reggae energy and that he sang in language. I feel confident that he’ll be very well-received by our WOMADelaide 2024 audience.”

ABC International Services Head Claire M Gorman said: “We are very proud to be able to showcase the incredible Pacific musical talent through this competition to audiences across the region on ABC Radio Australia and ABC Pacific platforms. This year’s number of entries demonstrates the immense musical talent across the Pacific, and we are thrilled to see Ju Ben perform at WOMADelaide 2024.”

The finalists for Pacific Break 2023 are:

  • Yang Souljja (Solomon Islands), Superstar
  • Jammin’ (Solomon Islands), Something About You
  • Joycelyn Karawa (Fiji), Know Your Worth
  • Ragga Siai (Papua New Guinea), Mangi West
  • TAZ (Papua New Guinea), Mamua
  • I NU (New Caledonia), May Be
  • Ricky Mera (Vanuatu), A Small Man’s Cry
  • RATU (Fiji), Sereka Mai
  • Tanzpanda (Solomon Islands), Missim You
  • Asi Vaname (Papua New Guinea), Gwau Hamata
  • T-cage (Solomon Islands), Drowning
  • Bibao (Solomon Islands), Waigho
  • Wakani Oz (Vanuatu), Supreme God


For interview opportunities or general media enquiries, please contact:

Annalise Ramponi

Marketing and Communications Coordinator, ABC International

[email protected]


About ABC Radio Australia & ABC International Services

ABC International Services, through owned and operated platforms ABC Australia, ABC Radio Australia, and ABC websites and apps, reaches unique overseas audiences of 14,224,065 each month. ABC Australia television is available in 38 countries and has a monthly viewership of at least 3,905,050 across Asia and the Pacific which is an 8% YOY increase from 2022 to 2023.  ABC Radio Australia has a monthly listenership in the Pacific and Timor-Leste of at least 321,225 which is a 12% YOY increase from 2022 to 2023. ABC International Services has been operating for nearly 85 years. 

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