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  • What combines serious gaming with learning around the conflicting demands of people and the environment?

    What combines science and social sciences with mathematics and ethical decision making?

    The inaugural Aqua Republica game was run in 2016. The game provides an innovative way to support young New Zealanders to understand the complexities in water resource management and the intrinsic trade-offs involved when considering these resources. The game has a bird’s eye view of a water catchment, where the player acts as catchment manager and must apply system-wide approaches to integrated water resource management.

    The New Zealand Aqua Republica Eco Challenge is an extracurricular learning event for ages 11–17. It is centred on a globally benchmarked online strategy game customised to the New Zealand environment.

    As a first-year pilot, engaged youth in the Bay of Plenty, Canterbury, Greater Wellington, Hawke’s Bay, Taranaki, Auckland, Tasman and Waikato regions tried their hands at balancing the needs of human populations with those of the environment and competed to be regional and national winners.

    Aqua Republica has been extremely successful throughout Southeast Asia and South Africa, with over 1,450 teams participating internationally in 2015. 2016 was the first year the game was played in New Zealand. The developers created an iconic ‘Kiwi catchment’ using genuine New Zealand features and cultural concepts with the view to foster water stewardship in our New Zealand students. The plan is to run a yearly New Zealand-wide Eco Challenge competition, celebrating game champions within the New Zealand hydrology community and beyond.

    DHI Water and Environment NZ have partnered with the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) to create Aqua Republica, a game like SimCity but for water management and pollution. It is based on one of DHI’s software programs that is used in actual water catchment modelling. The objective of the game is to develop a sustainable catchment by balancing growth and productivity against water use and sustaining ecosystems.

    We believe this concept is a new idea filling a current gap in New Zealand. It presents a bird’s eye view and whole-system approach to integrated water resource management.

    Rose Jowsey, Business Coordinator, DHI New Zealand

    Professional learning and development webinars

    The Hub presented three PLD webinars for student and teachers participating in the 2016 event. The webinars provide insights to both the science and the pedagogy underpinning the game.


    The AquaRepublica ​serious game is now offline.

    Nature of science

    Modelling in science is an important aspect to predicting future impacts from different scenarios. Managing water catchment usage is vital to conserving ground water.

    Related content

    The article Gaming for learning explores serious gaming as a rich resource space for students and is supported by our Gaming and virtual learning Pinterest board.

    Learn about water’s journey and the global water cycle in H20 on the go!

    Explore the different Human impacts on water resources in the article Humans and the water cycle.

    Explore water in the spirit of kaitiakitanga

    Learn about the restoration of the Waikato River.

    There’s a wealth of water-related articles and activities in our mātauranga Māori topic.

    Useful links

    Water games is a collection of different games addressing various water challenges.

    Find out more about how the game is played in Australia.

    See the NZCER Games for Learning project's stimulating reports.

    Learn more from Aqua Republica’s global E-learning module.

      Published 27 July 2016, Updated 16 October 2017 Referencing Hub articles
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