Game brings his­tory to life

The Northland Age - - Local News -

A board game designed to ex­plore an im­por­tant pe­riod of New Zealand his­tory has gone into pro­duc­tion.

De­vised by Pro­fes­sional Teach­ing Fel­low Ruth Lemon and learn­ing de­signer Richard Durham from the University of Auck­land’s Fac­ulty of Ed­u­ca­tion and So­cial Work, Hohi 1816 is named af­ter the small Bay of Islands set­tle­ment that was home to New Zealand’s first school.

Ms Lemon said she started think­ing about cre­at­ing the game af­ter she saw her first-year Bach­e­lor of Ed­u­ca­tion students strug­gling with the ver­sion of his­tory they’d been taught at school.

“I wanted an in­ter­est­ing way of teach­ing a re­vi­sion­ist and ac­cu­rate his­tory of early Ma¯ori and Pa¯keha¯ en­gage­ments in which Ma¯ori were the ini­tia­tors of events,” she said.

A lec­turer in the Fac­ulty’s Te Puna Wa¯nanga, she de­vel­oped the game in her spare time, draw­ing heav­ily on the his­tor­i­cal schol­ar­ship of pro­fes­sors Ali­son Jones and Kuni Kaa Jenk­ins for ac­cu­racy. In 2014, Pro­fes­sor Jones wrote:

“Ear­lier than many of us re­alise, Ma¯ori and Pa¯keha¯ lead­ers were es­tab­lish­ing strate­gic re­la­tion­ships, from 1793, and a num­ber of ran­gatira Ma¯ori trav­elled to Aus­tralia in the ear­li­est years of the 19th Cen­tury, both to ex­plore European so­ci­ety and to re­in­force political con­tacts.”

De­vel­op­ment of the game to pro­duc­tion stage had taken about a year.

“I de­vel­oped the first draft in a Triv­ial Pur­suit style, but then I re­alised the ques­tion and answer for­mat didn’t re­ally fit my learn­ing ob­jec­tives for the game, which was to get my students to think crit­i­cally about the ideas and form their own ques­tions,” Ms Lemon said.

That was where learn­ing de­signer Richard Durham came in.

“Richard did a fan­tas­tic job of re­design­ing the game from my ini­tial con­cept to be much more suited to what I wanted it to achieve,” she said.

The game be­came more story-based, en­cour­ag­ing ex­plo­ration, col­lab­o­ra­tion and crit­i­cal think­ing. Spe­cial­ist board game de­sign­ers from Nec­tarine Ltd cre­ated a rich colour pal­ette, graphic de­sign and il­lus­tra­tions.

Ex­plor­ing the pe­riod from 1793 to 1816, and fo­cus­ing on pre-Treaty en­gage­ment be­tween Ma¯ori and Pa¯keha¯, the game in­volves co-op­er­at­ing play­ers who must bal­ance try­ing to reach the story’s fi­nal ob­jec­tive in the short­est time, while col­lect­ing as much knowl­edge as they can along the way.

Play re­volves around three tasks: travelling to his­tor­i­cal lo­ca­tions, ex­plor­ing them, and en­gag­ing with his­tor­i­cal char­ac­ters with a fo­cus on te reo Ma¯ori.

“It’s a non-threat­en­ing way to ini­ti­ate and sus­tain dis­cus­sions about his­tor­i­cal events be­tween Ma¯ori and Pa¯keha¯. It also pro­vides a prac­ti­cal way for students to trans­fer this knowl­edge into their teach­ing ca­reers, and potentiall­y other ca­reer paths as well,” she said.

Hohi 1816 also had rel­e­vance to many other un­der­grad­u­ate and post­grad­u­ate cour­ses in his­tory, drama, hu­man geog­ra­phy and en­vi­ron­men­tal science.

The game would be used in teacher trainee class­rooms at the Fac­ulty of Ed­u­ca­tion and So­cial Work, with wider dis­tri­bu­tion in future.


Ruth Lemon and Richard Durham from Auck­land University’s Fac­ulty of Ed­u­ca­tion and So­cial Work en­grossed in a game of Hohi 1816.

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