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The entire cast of Dancing with the Stars NZ.
The entire cast of Dancing with the Stars NZ.

Pop CultureApril 30, 2018

Dancing with the Stars NZ Power Rankings: all 12, mercilessly graded

The entire cast of Dancing with the Stars NZ.
The entire cast of Dancing with the Stars NZ.

We’re two nights into the dance off, and now we’ve seen all the acts. So with a lot of trash talk, but absolutely no back-walking or mascots, we’re going to do a power ranking. Dance off. These are the power rankings for the first week of highly anticipated not-dropping-dancer-celebrity show, Dancing with the Stars NZ.

In episode one we had strong showings from social media influencer Jess Quinn and broadcast newsperson Sam Hayes, and some absolutely frankly bullshit scores for professional charisma machines Marama Fox and Robert Rakete, while Shavaughn (Shav) Ruakere gave us full Michelle Pfeiffer-realness, Chris Harris did his best benign drunk uncle at a wedding and Gilda gave us the LaCroix version of Catherine Zeta-Jones’ ‘Cell Block Tango’.

But it’s the second episode now, and we’re going to pretend this all wasn’t filmed on the same night, or at least I am. So we’ve got all 12 celebrities who are moving around a South Pacific Pictures soundstage for charity’s benefit, and these are the definitive power rankings.

12. David Seymour (with Amelia)

The borrowed charisma and expired charity that Seymour’s party has coasted upon courtesy of Rodney Hide won’t help him one bit on Dancing with the Stars, unfortunately.

Also what won’t help him? Doing a jive. To ‘My Sharona’.

My screenshots say what I cannot. I have devoted enough time to the ministrations of David Seymour.

No, Grease Lightning.
Look, we’re all as scared as you are.
Not the most embarrassing thing an Act Party leader has done.
Would you buy a used Act Party from this man?

Dai Henwood banter: I did not record this, for I was deceased. But I did recall David’s weird banter attempt when he said, “You’ve got more votes than he does.”


Zac Franich, metaphorically drowning his poor dance partner Kristie.

11. Zac Franich (with Kristie)

In another life I was a swim coach, and if I can tell you anything from our year-end staff parties, life guards do not make for the most dexterous human beings on the dance floor. They might be able to save your drowning child or spot some faeces in a crowded pool, but they can’t pull out a slut-drop at the drop of a hat. Zac proves this thesis that I learned in high school.

There’s a saying that they taught me as a swim teacher (or it might be from some super gay play), which is that the strongest swimmers drown first because they try to help those who are drowning. Kristie is doing so much work as his partner, and Zac is drowning her fully. Bless his sweet, drowning, stiff-backed soul. You might save lives on the beach, but you do not save them on the dancefloor. Which is good, because there are no lives at stake here.

Also bless whoever decided to deem Shawn Mendes’ ‘There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back’ (which is a fine song I saw the man perform last year live at Spark Arena, no brag) as a tango song. Music supervisor, do you know what tango is? Let’s discuss.

Dai Henwood banter: “We’ve got a jheri curl professional wrestling situation.”


Gilda had it coming.

10. Gilda Kirkpatrick (with Shae) – Tango

Pop, six, squish, Cicero, Lipschiz. If you’re doing a tango, there are worse songs to do it to than the not-at-all tango song ‘Cell Block Tango’ from Chicago (there’s also a lot better, like an actual tango song). She brought full Housewife attitude to ‘Cell Block Tango’, one of the best songs in modern-ish musical theatre, and she seemed to absolutely play into both the song and her persona with this one, hi neck snap – she’s a housewife, she’s a killer one and she’s playing to stay around.

Gilda seems fun, and she proves herself to be a likeable presence outside of the dancing. And considering how much of Dancing with the Stars is made up of dancing as opposed to behind the scenes/interviews/judging/banter, that could bode well.

Dai Henwood banter: “Speaking of which, Real Housewives?”


Chris Harris upsetting people at his marketing job.

9. Chris Harris (with Vanessa) – Cha cha

Former Black Hat Chris Harris is incredibly cute, and would do very well at your local RSA. As a contestant on Dancing with the Stars, he’s equally as likeable as your granddad doing a two-step on his local dancefloor-with-a-carvery and is clearly having as much of a ball. He seems like the absolute nicest person, but being the absolute nicest person does not necessarily make for a winner. It will, however, likely make the South Island vote for him. I called it here first: The South Island loves a smiler.

Dai Henwood banter: “Vanessa and the rooster!”

SCORE: 18!

This strikes terror into the face of the babe of the day.

8. Roger Farrelly (with Carol-Ann) – Jive

Look, the only reason Rockin’ Rog stays around is if the farmers who get up at 4am and listen to The Rock while they harvest their cows and milk their corn decide to unionise and continue to vote him in as a prank against the avocado-smashing pinkos who drink their gin and soda and watch Dancing with the Stars.

Much like putting nipples on the Batsuit, they put nipples on Rockin’ Rog, and he appears to have tanked. He’s not awful for his age, his demographic, or his life, and his enthusiasm is pretty infectious. What isn’t infectious? His bum-drumming, as Dai Henwood calls it. Carol-Ann is a trooper, as you would have to be to agree to dance a second time with Roger (they danced together for a Christchurch telethon, which sounds more like a thread like anything) so, way to go Carol-Ann.

But let’s be honest: Rog stays around for a prank, not for the long haul.

Dai Henwood banter: “Mesh, and the bum drumming.”


Sam Hayes, doing neither a fox nor a trot.

8. Sam Hayes (with Aaron) – Non-Traditional Foxtrot (what the hell is that)

Sam Hayes did much better than her ill-fated promo, which is not hard to do. She looks great, despite her Fame-era arm-warmers, and she strikes a gorgeous pose doing a … foxtrot, which, now that I think of it, resembles neither a fox nor a trot. (Can you tell I have exactly zero dance training, and am thus extremely qualified to power-rank this celebrity-not-dropping competition?)

But yeah, she looks great, she seems stoked to have done well and also look great, and will likely go well based on how nice the judges are to her, and how much people seem to genuinely like Sam Hayes, which is a lot!

Dai Henwood banter: I missed this one, something about how dancing is harder than reading the news, and as someone who has no skill at either, I agree.


Robert Rakete throws Nicole on the desk during the samba.

6. Robert Rakete (with Nicole) – Samba

Robert Rakete came here to play and win. He has the narrative, he has the experience (via being the Brown Wiggle). He starts simple, has confidence, does well with a samba to Ed Sheeran’s ‘The Shape of You’, which is not something that should be samba’d to, but Dancing with the Stars flies in the face of sense and musicality. He nailed it though and captured our hearts, much like he captured the hearts of the mothers who likely watched him play the Wiggle.

Dai Henwood banter: “Look at the shape of you!”

SCORE: 17! Which is frankly bullshit.

Naz, getting ready for a lift.

5. Naz Khanjani (with Tim) – Samba

The cartwheel. Like every single reality show contestant in time, Naz comes into her second reality show experience saying that she wanted to show who she really has this time, despite being around for a lot of episodes of the first reality show experience she was on.

But seriously, Naz shows a charisma, an athleticism and a sheer magnetism that, despite some harsh critiques from the judges, shows that she is someone who people want to watch, she knows people want to watch her, and she gets a lot of joy from that.

Is she a good dancer? I can’t tell. But she did a lot. She did a cartwheel. Your move, Rockin’ Rog.

Dai Henwood banter: “Are you happy you got through the dance, you’re up on the shoulders?”


Shav Ruakere, apparently.

4. Shavaughn (Shav) Ruakere (with Enrique) – Cha cha

My lord she looks great! I don’t mean to be shallow, because I’m not a particularly shallow person, but she looks amazing, bringing full Michelle Pfeiffer catsuit and Ariana Grande-last-era-high ponytail. And also, she’s a beautiful performer – and she brings the same charisma she brought to the TK-subduing Roimata and the gunge-subduing… Shavaughn, I guess, that she does to the cha cha. Well done, Shavaughn.

(I’m also on record on not being into this ‘Shav’ rebranding – I learned how to spell her name in the nineties and goddamn if I’m letting that work go to waste now that I’m being paid to write her name at least once a week.)

Dai Henwood banter: “You didn’t mention you were on C4 with me.”


Jess Quinn, looking rightly stupendous.

3. Jess Quinn (with Jonny) – Rumba

Jess goes hard for the rumba on ‘Faded’giving us full Drag Race-drama-face, and honestly, I think she’s a stealth favourite for this competition. She gave us a charismatic as hell performance, and she looks genuinely thrilled to be performing on this show. (Especially considering she was in A&E the night before, and I can barely watch this show having slept an entire night the day before and having done nothing except vaguely wander around the CBD today.)

I have zero shade to give Jess, she’s really fun to watch and legitimately charismatic. As someone who has never been influenced by a social media influencer, consider me influenced.

Dai Henwood banter: “Can I get a Jess, Quinn?”

SCORE: 23!

Marama Fox killing the jive.

2. Marama Fox (with Brad) – Jive

Marama calls her partner out straight away as being a skinny white guy, so we’re off to a very good start. Also they’ve got her doing the jive on her first week, so we’re off to an even better start.

And honestly? She kills it. There’s a reason why she’s on this show, and it’s because she’s charismatic as hell, people love her, people want to watch her, they want to listen to her, and it turns out if people want to watch and listen to you, then people will want to watch you dance. I don’t want to see her dance on this show, I want to see her dance in person.

Marama coming for ur man.

She’s the best. Team Marama, sorry, not at all sorry.

Dai Henwood banter: “Looks like Marama Fox is Marama Cougar now.”

SCORE: 17, which is straight up bullshit.

The queen is here to slay.

1. Suzy Cato (with Matt) – The Quick Step

Dude. She gave you face, she gave you comedy, she gave you lip-sync. Suzy Cato did not come to win a low level show like Dancing with the Stars, she came to win RuPaul’s Drag Race. She is here to kill us all.

There’s a star quality to Suzy Cato that she knows she has. She knows people are watching her. She knows people want to see the rimmed glasses. She knows people love the novelty of seeing her in a sheer dress, and want to see her give a little comedy face.

Suzy Cato or The Scream? You decide.

She has been in front of us longer than any of these other fools. She isn’t just a star, she’s an icon. And she is milking that for all it is goddamned worth. She brought her kids out, she brought the tears out.

She is winning this thing and if she doesn’t, I will riot.

Dai Henwood banter: He had no banter, he was as starstruck as any of us would be.


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