Māori youth thrive in spoken word competition

By Aroha Mane

E Tū Whānau is a spoken word competition that gives rangatahi the opportunity to express their views, thoughts and experiences. It's a forum that's seen two Māori create award-winning compositions.

Spoken word is a contemporary form of oratory.

“It's the power of words, speech and poetry. It gives one the opportunity to have an opinion, to speak your views and share them with the world,” Te Kahu Rolleston says.

Rolleston is a past champion of the competition and made a name for himself with a moving piece on the aftermath of the Rena tragedy. Now he's focused on motivating youth to get involved.

On her 13th birthday, Kylah Iosua found out she was the winner of this year's Rangatahi section, for her With Dreams of Diversity. Iosua  is from Ngāti Kahu and Ngāpuhi.

“I would see people protesting for their rights, what they deserve and what they need because of what they're not getting. It was really empowering,” she says.

“Always write what you want to share, not what you think the audience wants to hear because it's what you're sharing from your experiences and from your perspective.”

Rolleston says connecting with rangatahi is important. “Spoken word gives rangatahi a platform to share their thoughts because sometimes we adults don't listen.”

It's hoped that more will listen to this contemporary form of expression.