Slam poetry provides platform for rangatahi voice

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Four young Māori women are speaking up and making waves through slam poetry.  Te Kāea caught up with the group of 16-year-olds from Western Springs College in Auckland ahead of the Front Line WORD Grand Slam Poetry competition next week.

Te Rina Wichman-Evans (NgāPuhi, Ngāti Whātua) says, "I know that when I'm speaking my own words, that my voice is being heard and I'm able to speak to significant issues."

Colonisation, land confiscation, Māori language, and Treaty rights are some of the issues being addressed through their poetry.

Arihia Hall (Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Tūkorehe) says, "For those who are ignorant towards Māori affairs, for them to learn something about our history, to learn about the oppression of Māori and our fight to improve outcomes for Māori."

This is the fourth year of the Action Education Frontline Grand Slam Poetry competition.  44 schools auditioned and competed in preliminary rounds, now six schools have made it through to the finals.

The group from Western Springs College say that they strive to empower women and rangatahi.

Matariki Bennet (Te Arawa) says, "For a long time, the world has belittled us and our voices, so we are speaking up to make that voice heard.

For Manaia Tuwhare-Hoani (NgāPuhi, Ngāti Wai) it's in the blood, she is following the footsteps of her great-grandfather and well-known poet Hone Tuwhare.

Tuwhare-Hoani says, "I can follow his footsteps but I'm also able to be unique, to stand proud and share my own experiences and speak my own truth."

The Grand Slam takes place on the 1st of September at the Auckland Town Hall Concert Chamber.