Dancing With The Stars NZ grand final 2018: As it happened

After 12 hopefuls started out, finalists Chris Harris, Shavaughn Ruakere, Jess Quinn and Samantha Hayes battled for victory one last time in Dancing With The Stars NZ.

Below is a step-by-step breakdown of exactly how the grand final happened.


Sharyn has officially awarded Sam and Aaron the glitter ball trophy!

Sam says she can't believe she's won. She also can't believe she's been able to wear all these sassy outfits on national television!

Confetti is flying, tears are streaming, celebs are hugging. It's all over!

8:52pm: Suzy Cato just twerked on national television! My childhood memories have been irreparably changed, but I couldn't be happier about it.

8:46pm: Rachel held out on a 10 for Sam, ruining her shot at that perfect score! She'll have to settle for 29. Sharyn couldn't help herself, yelling out "WHAT?!" Same, girl. Same.

Chris and Vanessa have held on to the top spot on the Judge's leaderboard - which remember, counts for absolutely nothing - with another perfect 30. Sam and Jess are tied up with 29 each. But it's entirely up to the voting public now.

8:44pm: "I just kept going blank backstage," Sam admits. Not that we could tell!

Aaron says he wanted Sam to wear 'toe undies'- whatever those are - for this dance, but she wasn't keen. Don't blame her, to be honest.

8:42pm: Of course, Sam is performing her and Aaron's epic contemporary dance to 'Cold' - it earned her the show's first ever 10's back in week eight!

That leaning-ankle-grab move is quite possibly the best one of the entire season... so effortless!

Sam Hayes dancing in the grand final of Dancing With The Stars NZ 2018.
Photo credit: MediaWorks

8:39pm: Sam and Aaron are about to do their final dance, then the winner will be crowned! Well not crowned, but handed a big disco ball. Why isn't there a crown?!

8:34pm: A score of 29 for Jess and Jonny's final turn on the d-floor. That makes for a total of 57 out of 60 for their two grand final performances.

8:32pm: Not sure if it's Jess' addition of some serious purple hair glitter, but she managed to up her game even further for her final dance.

Rachel just called Jess Sam! The pressure of the final is clearly taking it's toll.

Jess Quinn dances in the grand final of Dancing With The Stars NZ 2018.
Photo credit: MediaWorks

8:29pm: Jess and Jonny are pulling out their sassy cha cha to Justin Timberlake's 'Senorita', and it is even better the second time around!

8:21pm: Another perfect score! Chris has scored 60 out of a possible 60 tonight, what an absolute legend. 

8:19pm: That was even better the second time around - I'm dizzy! I feel as though I've just been whirled around the dance floor by a cricketer wearing leather arm straps!

"That routine is a memorable moment," says Camilla. She said it's her favourite number from the entire season.

"You have proven that there is a dancer in all of us," screams Julz. He's so excited, he looks like he might burst a blood vessel in his eye or something.

8:16pm: Chris is so in character, it's giving me goosebumps.

Chris Harris performing in the Dancing With The Stars NZ 2018 grand final.
Photo credit: MediaWorks

8:14pm: Yes, Chris and Vanessa's Paso Doble trio is back! Bring back the man-cape, bring back the guyliner, bring back Vanessa's brother! I am READY!

8:10pm: Dai's doing a contemporary interpretive number in a mesh singlet, and inexplicably, a bandanna.

It's set to Cyndi Lauper's classic 'Time After Time', and he's gone for quite a literal interpretation, lots of 'clock arm ticking' moves. Now he's just squeezed his own butt cheek though, which makes less sense...

8:08pm: Dai Henwood, AKA Little D With A Deep V, is about to take to the dance floor. If anything can cheer us up after that elimination, it's got to be this.

8:04pm: "You bring so much light to the situation, and so much love - and you did it every single time you came out on this dance floor," an emotional Dai tells Shav.

Naw, cuddles and champagne for Shavrique in Sharyn's booth... they've earned it!

8:00pm: Shavrique is out!

Oh my God, so many tears, my tiny heart cannot take it.

There's Naz! She didn't dance in the big opening number with everyone, but she's in Sharyn's booth showing her support for Shavrique.

7:58pm: Chris and Vanessa are at the top of the leaderboard with 30, followed by Sam with 29, then Jess with 28, then Shav with 26. But the judges scores don't even matter tonight, so...leaderboard, shmeaderboard.

The voting is locked (for now), the elimination is about to go down!

One couple is about to leave, then the final three will battle it out for the glitter ball trophy.

7:53pm: "He makes me do some crazy things" Sam says, referring to a dangerous handstand-over-the-back move that Aaron choreographed. It didn't quite go as planned, a few wobbles. Sam says it took "all of her courage" to attempt it.

Sam's just shy of that perfect score again! A strong 29 for her first dance of the night.

7:48pm: Oh my God, Sam just did an insane spinning death drop move, I don't know what it was but everyone in the audience gasped audibly. Although to be honest, I was screaming so I couldn't hear.

Aaron just ripped Sam's skirt off, executing a flawless costume change on the dance floor, mid-dance!

This is like a freaking Cirque De Soliel show! So many tricks. So acrobatic!

Big call, but I think that routine had the most tricks of any number this season. Seriously impressive.

Sam Hayes dancing in the grand final of Dancing With The Stars NZ 2018.
Photo credit: MediaWorks

7:40pm: A score of 26 for Shavrique, not a 10 in sight...

7:39pm: That was a beautiful dance, but I don't know if it was quite show-stopping enough for the finale! Shavrique didn't really pull out any new moves. Eek!

Rachel agrees - not quite dynamic enough. We're on the same wavelength, me and Rach.

Julz just used the Covergirl tagline in his critique: "Easy, breezy, beautiful".

Shav just nearly fell up the stairs! Not now Shav, you still have another dance to do!

7:35pm: Shavrique are giving us something a little bit country for their show dance!

Shav looks like a country version of Belle from Beauty and The Beast and it is wonderful.

7:33pm: "Are you happy that we're in the finals, Enrique?" Shav asks.

"Head turned!" Enrique says through gritted teeth.

Shavaughn Ruakere dancing in the Dancing With The Stars NZ 2018 grand final.
Photo credit: MediaWorks

7:28pm: Jess' 'every day leg' has been glammed up and is featuring as a guest in Sharyn's booth. It's wearing a necklace, even! She only wore it once, for her contemporary dance in week eight.

The judges awarded her a total of 28 for her show dance.

7:26pm: "You have taught us to never let adversity steal our dreams," Rachel just told Jess.

Camilla says the world needs more role models like Jess. Hear, hear.

7:23pm: The mini-me is called Ella. Ella could be getting a career-making phone call from Sia sometime in the near future.

7:22pm: These two are not here to play with their facial expressions. Intense. Okay, never mind the facials, Jess just did an actual backflip!

7:21pm: There's a mini-jess on the dance floor! Where did that child come from?! Cute though.

7:20pm: Jess Quinn's dance partner Jonny has been in the Dancing With The Stars final four times before! Fifth time lucky...?

Jess Quinn dancing in Dancing With The Stars NZ 2018.
Photo credit: MediaWorks

7:14pm: In a rare moment of agreement, judges Julz and Rachel both said they think that Chris' routine deserves the win!

A perfect score for Chris and Vanessa straight off the bat! (No cricket pun intended) Three 10s! Where do we go from here?!

7:12pm: So we're hearing from the judges, but their comments and scores don't actually make a difference anymore! Sorry, guys. The winner is going to be decided 100 percent by public voting.

Chris Harris dances on Dancing With The Stars NZ.
Photo credit: MediaWorks

7:10pm: Chris and Vanessa are kicking things off with a bit of Bowie. The lyrics say 'put on your red shoes' and Vanessa is wearing red shoes. The wardrobe department deserves a 10 for that costuming choice.

A beautifully executed tap dance solo from Chris Harris! Pulling out all the stops for their first dance.

"She's an angel" Chris says of Vanessa.

7:07pm: We just had an intimate look at Chris Harris in his dressing gown at a hotel room! At first it felt a little voyeuristic, but then Chris said 'it's a lonely life,' and I felt sad. Not long now, Chris!

7:05pm: Everyone looks like they are out for a night on the town in Las Vegas and I am here for it.

Surely tonight is the night somebody gets a perfect score - there were so many 10s thrown out last week it would be rude to withhold that 30 out of 30 for at least one of the finalists!

How on earth did everyone get changed so quickly? I am very much hoping this is the first of many wonderful and speedy costume changes.

7:03pm: There's sparks flying in every sense of the word - falling from the ceiling, between the pro dancers, it's all happening.

Gilda's here! Zac's back! Robert Rakete looks smoking hot as usual. The gang is back together!

Zac is clearly still chasing his dream of having his dad dance moves made into as many gifs as possible.

Suzy Cato is making it rain on David Seymour. I feel strange.

Hold on...where's Naz? She posted on Instagram saying that she was "excited to be present for the finals", but she does not seem to be in attendance.

7:00pm: ...and we're off! The show has begun, the grand finale is starting.