Back to Blog
Back for it's 6th year, the Word - The Front Line Grand Slam is the biggest poetry event in New Zealand. Happening Saturday 14th September, 7pm at the Concert Chamber, Auckland Town Hall, the top 6 teams from around Auckland will compete for the title of 2019 Grand Slam Champs. Tickets can be purchased at the Ticketmaster website here!
Judging a poetry slam is no easy feat, so we are fortunate to have an incredible judging panel of officials, poets, artists, and community figures. For the first time ever we will also be having 5 judges! So without further delay, here are our judges for the Word - The Front Line 2019 Grand Slam.
Photo credit: Neil Mackenzie
Judge Andrew Becroft
Jordan Vaha'akolo, also known as 'The River Jordan' by his social media followers, is known for his ability to make people laugh and spit some serious truth. Having previously worked for Attitude, he has a natural gift for speaking to young people and communities about some of our toughest topics. For the most part Jordan works in television and film. Having acted and presented he also spends his time behind the camera, currently producing for Māori TV. He’s passionate about people, food and story telling with hopes to one day create world renowned movies about the Pacific and our culture.
Photo credit: Pati Solomona Tyrell
Jahra 'Rager' Wasasala
Jahra ‘Rager’ Wasasala is of Fijian/Euro origin based in Aotearoa (New Zealand) and is an award-winning cross-disciplinary activation artist and world-builder. Jahra’s mahi has toured across Aotearoa, Australia, Hawai’i, New York, Berlin, Guahån and Canada so far. Recognised as a performative force of nature, Jahra utilises her training within performance activation, contemporary dance technique and poetry soundscape as a psychopomp for ancestral attunement, shape-shifting and story-telling through her work. Jahra is currently in development for the new solo activation work ‘GOD-HOUSE’, commissioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
Photo credit: Peniel Fa'amausili/Sole Photography
Photo credit: Peniel Fa'amausili/Sole Photography
Te Kahu Rolleston
Te Kahu Rolleston (Ngāi Te Rangi) is a Māori poet, spoken word performer, actor and battle rap artist from Tauranga. He has been called 'The Taniwha of Slam Poetry'. His work often honours his ancestors, the land, and the ongoing Māori struggles for Tino Rangatiratanga and socio-economic betterment. His poetry speaks to what it means to be Māori, combining mythology, history and modern politics. Te Kahu was the 2014 winner of The National Poetry Slam Competition, and in 2015 was invited to attend The Banff Centre’s Indigenous Writing Programme alongside Witi Ihimaera. He has since performed his work nationwide and internationally, working particularly with youth, schools and community groups.
Carrie Rudzinski is a poet and published author who ranked 4th in the world at the 2014 Women of the World Poetry Slam. Featured in Bustle, the Huffington Post, and Teen Vogue, she has performed her work over the past 14 years in 6 countries and in almost all 50 of the United States. She recently won the 2019 Pussy Riot award at the Auckland Fringe Festival and performed at the 10th annual Tedx in Christchurch. Her poems have been published in Landfall, University of California Press, Learn Than Burn, We Will Be Shelter, Catalyst and Muzzle. She is currently a lecturer of performing arts and creative writing at Manukau Institute of Technology and a program coordinator for the Michael King Writer’s Centre’s Young Writer’s Program.
We are so excited to have some incredible poets, artists, and community figures on our judging panel, who are so kindly gifting their time, talents and expertise. This event could not happen without them! Judging a poetry slam is no easy feat, so we wish them all the best!
Without further ado, here are your judges for HEAT #2:
VILLETTE is an award-winning all round creative - from singing producing & DJ’ing to song writing. Born & raised in New Zealand, VILLETTE’s sound is a mix of RNB, Hip Hop & Electronic Soul. in 2016 she was signed with Red Bull Sound Select which provided her with opportunities to travel NZ and go to LA to work in studio sessions with prominent writers and open for AlunaGeorge alongside Xavier Omar. Most recently, VILLETTE won the award for Best Pacific Music Video at the 2019 Pacific Music Awards.
Her production & vocals has taken her on a NZ & USA tour, and travelling around Australia opening for UV Boi.
Sonya Renee Taylor
Sonya Renee Taylor is the Founder and Radical Executive Officer of The Body is Not An Apology, a digital media and education company committed to radical self-love and body empowerment as the foundational tool for social justice.
Sonya has shared her work as an award-winning Performance Poet, Activist, and educator in numerous countries and on major media outlets around the world,reaching hundreds of thousands of people with her commitment to radical self-love and transformation. Sonya continues to perform, speak and facilitate workshops globally.
Te Karere Scarborough
Two time Poetry Idol winner and judge Te Karere Scarborough (Ngāpuhi) is formerly a member of the South Auckland Poets Collective.
He has taught and performed poetry internationally and works for the charity Parenting Place
As a member of The Black Friars Theatre Company, Billy has a passion for building bridges and making mirrors particularly for Pasifika youth, through various mediums and sectors. Privileged to stand on the shoulders of giants, he too hopes to offer his shoulders and grow to be a giant for others.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.