Game Kings: Creators soon to launch new versions of Tākaro game

By Aroha Mane

Hamilton-based entrepreneurs Eliot Jessep and Ben Hawken are the game designers behind Tākaro, a card game that makes it simple and entertaining way to learn the basics of te reo Māori. Since its inception demand for the game has increased and so too has their knowledge of te reo Māori.

A board game designed to increase your te reo Māori vocabulary.

“Each version gives you 57 words that you can use in everyday life. The idea is you're just going to get these extra words that you can start putting into your conversations. One of the words in the game is 'ahi' meaning fire. If you're at a BBQ and in the backyard you can say, 'oh shall we light the ahi.' Words like that, that you can start dripping into everyday conversation,”  Eliot Jessep says.

Eliot Jessep and Ben Hawken are the co-founders of the company Game Kings. In designing the Tākaro game they made sure to seek reo advice and found it within their own company.

Winston Smith (Te Rarawa, Ngāti Kuri) started working for the company in 2019 and he has been instrumental in helping with the language element of the game. “I'm studying for a bachelor in te reo Māori at the moment. It's very important for me, it reminds me of being in kura kaupapa and learning our language through song, repetition and kapa haka. It's one of my greatest achievements to able to say I contributed a tool, not just for the youth but the older generations.”

Administrator Poppy Joy Taylor-Moore (Te Atiawa) says reo speakers in her whanau are rare. The game has reconnected her to her language, “I'm part Māori myself and I wasn't brought up with my reo. Takaro has been good to connect again with my reo and help me learn some more words. And I want more people to experience that because there is a lot of Māori who don't speak te reo.”

Game Kings have made a commitment to donate its game to schools.

“For us, it was still really important that we wanted a game in every school in the country. The easy way was to send one to every school in the country. New Zealand Post supported us so they covered the cost of freight to all of the schools. It was 2.5 thousand shipments. It took us a week to pack them all and get them ready to go,” says Jessep.

With three versions of the game available, there are plans to launch two more games.

“The next two Takaro we have coming out are gonna be Takaro numbers. I think a lot of kids know tahi, rua, toru, wha but it will be things like a hundred, a thousand etc. And also emotions and feelings, so it will make it easier to have actual conversations once they've learnt those words,” Taylor-Moore says.

The new games will be released in November.