First top Māori gamer named after fierce reo battle

By Stefan Dimitrof

The grand finale of the inaugural Eke Panuku reo Māori gaming competition took place over the weekend.

The event saw two kura kaupapa graduates battle it out for the top prize of $2000, a Playstation 5 gaming kit and all the games played throughout the competition.

The winner of the whakataetae was a former student of Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Māngere, Dominic Rakei-Haeata (Tūhoe, Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Kahungunu).

Rakei-Haeata said he started gaming when he was four or five, playing on a Playstation one with his first game Crash Bandicoot.

He said he caught wind of the gaming competition from an Instagram post sent to him by a friend looking for people who could speak te reo Māori who loved gaming, entered and made it on to the show.

Rakei-Haeata said gaming was a major part of technology and that this type of event could take te reo Māori places.

The format of the competition, Eke Panuku, had 10 contestants pitted against each other to see who was the best Māori gamer in Aotearoa.

“Some of the games that we played were NBA 2K, which you might have seen in the finals; Gran Turismo 7,  Street Fighter 5, Crash Bandicoot Team Racing, FIFA and Rocket League.

Rakei-Haeata said being there for the kaupapa and speaking te reo and winning the prizes were just a bonus from the experience.