Eliot Jessep and Ben Hawken have created a game like no other.

Tākaro - meaning to play - is a memory-style card game with the aim of helping players develop a better understanding of te reo.

"When I was at school, I didn't get many options to learn te reo Māori," Jessep said.

"I learned Japanese at school which wasn't very useful at all. I've seen a lot of my friends over the years start to learn te reo Māori. Ben and I, as game creators, thought 'what's something we can actually do to learn te reo Māori ourselves?' And if we can work it into a game, that's great."

The two mates own Game Kings, an online games retailer based in Hamilton. Their last game, Kiwis Against Morality became a fully-funded project in less than five hours after they put it on Kickstarter.

Tākaro, they say, has a much greater purpose.

"The game is played by having a pile of cards in the centre," Hawken said.

"Each player has a card in front of them on the table, and the card in the centre is flipped over and each player has to find a matching image between their card and the card in the centre. The first person to see that image and pronounce what it is in te reo Māori, wins that card, and the player with the most cards wins the game."

Hawken and Jessep have enlisted the help of a friend, Jay Wilson who is studying te reo Māori at the University of Waikato. They say upholding tikanga and ensuring correct pronunciation is essential.

"To see two Pākehā who want to create a te reo game, to bring te reo Māori into every space, into all spaces, I think that's awesome," Wilson said.

"Te Ao Māori or Māori world view is very different from Pākehā world view. So simple things like having pictures or items that are quite significant in the Māori world, they have a lot of mana. You don't want to just throw them into a game."

Ngā kupu, or the words, chosen are everyday words and if players are unsure how to pronounce a word correctly, they can scan a QR barcode that will take them to an online dictionary.

The men have launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter for Tākaro hoping to release the game by Māori language week this September.

"People can back the Kickstarter at different reward amounts," Jessep said. "We wanted to make sure it gets to New Zealand schools as cheap as possible for them, so we've set up different options where people can buy a pack and then donate a pack.

"We just want kids playing this game and getting te reo Māori in everyday life."

Made with funding from