Learning te reo Māori can be daunting for some, and the idea of memorising long lists of kupu and how to form sentence structures may even seem unreachable.
And that’s where Kura Rēhia co-founders, Rosie Remmerswaal and Kuruho Wereta, come in. They’re challenging that narrative with their board game, KAUPAPA.
“Our hope is that everyone in Aotearoa has more fun and positive ways to embrace te reo Māori and te ao Māori. For te reo Māori to be central to having fun together as whānau and as friends,” says Rosie.
Described as a board game for a bilingual Aotearoa, KAUPAPA uses both Māori and English kupu to help players expand their Māori vocabulary all while having ‘hysterical fun’.
The game was the brainchild of Rosie and Kuruho, who while flatting together wanted more ways to experience play and te reo Māori all in one, and that’s when KAUPAPA was born.
“At first it was just something that we made for ourselves, to play with our whānau, friends and reo classes. It evolved organically because when we played it, we felt interest and energy from those who played with us. We soon realised we needed to do this properly and not just share it with our friends, but with Aotearoa,” says Rosie.
The game is designed for players no matter what their level of Māori language may be, beginners can use it to learn new words, and fluent speakers can create a fast-paced, playful Māori language immersion environment.
“No matter what the make-up of your group is, you can play together - for example, if you have three fluent speakers and three beginners in your group, you can make it challenging for each of you using the three levels of play. While developing it with the community, we discovered how inclusive the game can be,” says Rosie.
By embracing te ao Māori and learning te reo, Rosie believes we can better understand indigenous perspectives and how they can transform the way we connect with people and the world around us.
Since the game was released in May 2021, Rosie and Kuruho have received tonnes of positive feedback from schools and whānau alike who have used the game as both a learning resource and a way to create positive, playful and fun connections with te reo Māori.
“For me, one of the most beautiful things is the energy that’s generated when we play together. It’s so powerful and it can be really connecting and healing. There’s something so pure about it,” says Rosie.
Rosie and the Kura Rēhia team are currently working on an expansion pack for KAUPAPA that will be released before the end of the year, but in the meantime, they hope to see more people embrace and learn te reo Māori through play.
“Looking ahead, we hope that KAUPAPA can be a companion to your reo learning journey as an individual, a whānau, school or hapori . Every time is different, and every time is fun. It can keep evolving and keep bringing something new and fresh.”
Visit the KAUPAPA website to find out more, or to purchase your own copy.