Iwa – A Simple Online Word Puzzle

When you’re learning te reo Māori, it can be difficult to find fun language resources to supplement your learning. Although I have a lot to say on that topic, I’m not going to write about it now – instead I’m going to introduce you to one of these fun language resources – an online word puzzle created by one of the commenters here at Whakawhiti i te Arawhiti.

The game is called Iwa, and you may have seen an English language version before in a newspaper or magazine. You are presented with a grid of 9 letters, and you have to make as many (Māori) words as you can. The instructions are pretty simple:

  • Make as many Māori words as you can
  • Minimum word length is 3
  • You MUST use the letter in the middle square
  • Each square can be used only once
  • There is always (at least) one 9-letter word
Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 3.43.43 pm.png
A screenshot of Iwa showing the grid of letters and goals for numbers of words found!

This is a great puzzle, because although the rules are easy, it is challenging to people of any ability as they struggle to find and remember more words and push themselves to the edge of their vocabulary. Therefore, it is an extensible activity, by which I mean you can keep doing it and benefitting from it as your language ability improves.

The website for Iwa presents you with the grid of letters, but you “play” with pen and paper to write your list of words. When you’re ready to give up, just press the Ngā kupu button to view the list of possible words. What I really like here is that some of the words are hyperlinked to the online Te Aka Māori Dictionary, so you can continue your learning by viewing the definition of any words that pique your interest.

Don’t forget too that you could play with one or more friends – either co-operate as a team to think of the words, or compete against against each other! If someone challenges you on a word, try to explain it’s meaning in te reo!

Give Iwa a go at the website and thanks to commenter orotau for providing this great resource.

Edit: I hope its ok to provide a screenshot, because I do like posts with some pictures.



Kupu hou – Matakapua

This week I have started learning some kupu hou (new words/vocabulary) by just opening the dictionary and picking an interesting looking word. This isn’t the best way to learn vocab because the word is unlikely to be useful to me anytime soon, but it’s fun. Fun takes precedence in language learning because the most important thing is to just do something. So long as you do something rather than nothing, you’re getting somewhere.


Matakapua is one of the Māori words for stilts, and its really easy to come up with a mnemonic to help remember it.

mata – face

kapua – cloud

matakapua – when you wear stilts your face is in the clouds!

EPSON scanner image
Shepherds on stilts (Wikipedia)