Te Kahu Rolleston admits he has “always loved words”.
Now the Slam Poetry winner is visiting schools, such as Te Aroha College, to promote poetry as a way of learning.
Influenced by Kapa Haka and “battle rap”, Rolleston said his winning poems were a mixture of these.
Battle rap is a type of rapping that includes a lot of bragging and boasting.
“In my school years I was the battle rap champion,” he said.
But rap was always about “dissing the competitor” and he eventually got tired of it, instead using his gift of words to write poems, he said.
His first poem, titled “Te RarangaTira” was written in 2013.
Not only is poetry entertaining, 24-year-old Rolleston believes that it also has educational benefits.
He sees poems as mnemonic devices – techniques a person can use to help them improve their ability to remember something.
For example, while at high school in Tauranga, his science teacher turned complicated names into rhymes, helping the students to familiarise themselves with each concept, he said.