They have been playing chess at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Tāmaki Nui a Rua since a teacher introduced it in 2009.
Nick Vella learned at a teacher’s course that chess helped children’s skills in mathematics and initially, the game was introduced to senior students but it took off and soon the junior school was into it big time.
The tradition is now firmly established. Lunchtimes, especially on cold days, are quite busy because chess is the game of choice, and the school has also run class competitions to find their champions.
Also, the school has been competing in the Manawatū Primary Chess Championships for a while but has never won. Until now!
Nick says having Shane Story, who is known as a bit of a chess guru, on the staff has helped in teaching the kids rules and strategies. He has donated chess sets too.
Last month a team of four won the Manawatū regional final and now it will be heading to the nationals in Auckland on September 22 for a two-day tournament hosted by Saint Kentigern College.
To assist the students Ngāti Kahungunu, working with Tararua Reap, has set up a chess club inviting anyone to come and play, with the idea of giving the children a chance to match their wits against adults.
To their astonishment, the offer has attracted 87 members, of whom 20 turn out on a Wednesday or Thursday at Reap from 5pm-6pm.
Dave Murdoch is a part-time photojournalist working for the Bush Telegraph and based at Dannevirke. He has covered any community story telling good news about the district for the past 10 years.