Who the heck are we? What are we doing? Why are we like this?

It’s Matariki, the start of a new cycle of the year down here in Aotearoa. This is a time we mark by remembering what has passed, celebrating where we are, and looking ahead to the future. 

So in that spirit, let’s check in on Kēmu Whakatau O Aotearoa, KiwiRPG: where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going.

Our journey so far

KiwiRPG began in late 2021. Big Bad Con had set up a 24-hour online convention, and as they looked to fill slots in their middle of the US night, they started talking to folks in Aotearoa. We set up a couple of panels featuring game folks around the motu here, and once that conversation started, we thought we could keep it going. It’s a big world, and working together to speak louder across it made a lot of sense! 

You can find those first two panels on the KiwiRPGers Talk YouTube playlist, along with the ones that followed as our networks strengthened

First we agreed on a hashtag, and then we set up a discord, and with that came a kaupapa (a way of doing what we do, a set of expectations and understandings), and a website, and the first KiwiRPG week, and finally a lengthy period of discussion where we agreed to become a formal organization and worked out rules and elected a committee. 

In that long process we really figured out what our priorities are:

  • getting the word out about our creations
  • supporting each other as we make our stuff
  • encouraging new voices from Aotearoa
  • speaking out when needed about how Aotearoa is represented in TTRPGs  


Where we’re at

Kēmu Whakatau O Aotearoa today is a few things!

There’s a busy and encouraging community in the KiwiRPG discord, where people work together to solve design problems, troubleshoot podcast technical issues, work on the logistics and economics of getting printed games into game stores (surprisingly complicated!), and provide moral support when times get tough.

We also hang out and make silly jokes and most Fridays have a community check-in where people just talk about what they’re up to and what’s going on with them, and it’s honestly a good vibe.

The discord is the buzzy centre of the community, but it’s not the limit! We have a bunch of members who visit the discord occasionally or not at all, who are busily doing their own thing in their own spaces, and more power to them. They’re still part of KiwiRPG and our network of support!

We’re present on a bunch of social media channels and we try to celebrate the wins all across our membership. It’s all a bit haphazard, because volunteer groups are like that, but it seems to work! 

And the highlight of the year, of course, is this week! KiwiRPG week is when we wave our flag and yell out “look at us”, and my goodness, if you know any New Zealanders you’ll understand that we are terrible at waving our flag and yelling “look at us”. We hate having to do that. The trick of KiwiRPG is that even the shy, reticent Kiwi creator will speak up when it’s about something cool our friends have done. 

What’s ahead

We’re not even halfway through our second year in operation as a formal association, and we’ve come a long way. But there is so much more to come!

  • Mentorship opportunities: We’re right now having conversations about setting up a formal mentorship programme for new Kiwi creators. We all already do a lot of mutual mentorship just by chatting away in discord, but this would be more structured and productive. We have in our membership creators who have made globally successful games, who have run very successful crowdfunds, and who produce viable and successful livestreams and work in professional media production. There is a lot of expertise ready to lift up someone new!
  • Special in-person events: There has been a lot of call for KiwiRPG events of various kinds. Already there are a few irregular meetups for KiwiRPG creators, but there is interest in setting up small conventions and looking for other opportunities to bring folks together in the real world. Early days on this one, but the spirit is willing!
  • Speaking up when needed: It has been a while since we have needed to speak up on an issue of representation in the TTRPG industry, but we stand ready to do so. This is a crucial part of our kaupapa and we will never fail to honour it.

We’re moving forward at the steady pace of a bunch of enthusiastic volunteers, i.e. not too fast, but not too slow either. Let’s find out how far we get before the next KiwiRPG week rolls around!

(And by the way – you’re signed up to the email mailing list for KiwiRPG week, right? So you get the handy reminder that it’s happening and the content summaries during the week? Of course you are…)

What about you?

We love everyone in Aotearoa making games and shows and enjoying tabletop role-playing games in all their unique ways.

If you’re a Kiwi, or you live here in Aotearoa, or you have strong connections to here even though you live elsewhere around the world, why not join up with KiwiRPG? We would love to meet you! Membership is free!

We are ready to help you get started on the path to making something, or sharing something,  or taking something to the next level.

And if you’re already doing things yourself – and here in Aotearoa we are good at getting things figured out by ourselves, that’s a whole thing in our cultural mindset that has its own Wikipedia-worthy metaphorical name – maybe you could come in and add your insights to our shared pool of knowledge and encouragement?

Kēmu Whakatau O Aotearoa, KiwiRPG, is a good bunch of folks, looking out for each other, giving each other a hand, and always ready with a chur at the right time. You’d be welcome here too.

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