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Games and Pastimes of the Maori

Games and Pastimes of The Maori — Introductory Chapter

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Games and Pastimes of The Maori

An Account of Various Exercises, Games and Pastimes of the
Natives of New Zealand, as Practised in Former Times,
Including Some Information Concerning Their Vocal and
Instrumental Music

Introductory Chapter

"Ka kawea tatou e te rehia"

(We are allured by the arts of pleasure)

Mythical origin of the arts of pleasure. Raukatauri and Raukautamea. Takataka-putea and Marere-o-tonga. The arts of Ruhanui. Rehia an ancient term for pleasure. Games and pastimes much resorted to by scriptless peoples. Recital of folk tales a favoured pastime. How games entered into social life. The Rev. Yate spears ducks. Effect of European intrusion on Maori life. Potatoes must be peeled on Saturday. Native pastimes, etc., discouraged by missionaries. Introduced games. Remarks by early writers. Ropata's list of Maori diversions. The Whare tapere or Whare rehia. The Whare karioi of Polynesia. How huts and plaza were illuminated. Entertainment of visitors. Kaipara and para-whakawai. Games and exercises demanding agility always encouraged.

Ever true to his mytho-poetic nature, the Maori of past times sought to explain the origin of all amusements and arts of pleasure by attributing them to certain mythical personages of remote times. Thus a common saying runs 'It was Raukatauri who originated all the arts of amusement.' Among some tribes such arts are attributed to Raukatauri and Raukatamea, the art of flute playing and all games are referred to that twain, who flourished in far off, misty times, when man was young upon the earth. These two names are widely known among the various tribes, though occasionally the origin of amusements is assigned to other personages. Thus, among the Tuhoe tribe, Takataka-putea and Marere-o-tonga are said to have been the authors of "Nga mahi a te rehia" or the arts of pleasure. Again, the Ngati-Porou folk of the East Cape district allude to all amusements as "Nga mahi a Ruhanui" (the arts of Ruhanui).

The first four of these origin agents, or personifications of the arts of pleasure, are certainly viewed as having flourished at a period of remote antiquity. Takataka-putea and Marere-o-tonga are mentioned in old myths as having been contemporaries of Rongo-marae-roa, one of the seventy offspring of the Sky Parent and Earth Mother, who represents peace, peace making, and all peaceful page 12arts, such as agriculture. Rongo is associated with these personified forms, or originators, of the arts of pleasure because they can be indulged in only when and where he holds sway, and possibly also for the reason that the period in which games and other pleasures were mostly indulged in was just after the crops were gathered and stored. It was during this harvest festival that the Maori folk gave themselves over to "Nga mahi a te rehia, a te harakoa" (The arts of pleasure and of joyfulness), or, as the men of old would have put it—"Ka kawea tatau e te rehia"-—We are allured by the arts of pleasure.

When the old warrior Ropata Wahawaha addressed the assembled members of Ngati-Porou at the opening of a new house at Waiapu in 1872, he remarked:—"In former times, when Whanui rose, the crops were gathered and stored, after which the arts of Ruhanui were practised." The heliacal rising of Whanui, the star Vega, was the sign generally accepted as denoting the time for the lifting of the main crop, that of the kumara or sweet potato. The first person of a village community to observe this star in the early morn, at once roused the hamlet with an old and well known cry:—"Ko Whanui . . E! Ko Whanui!" And that community sprang to life and action.

In the legend or myth of Tinirau and Kae, the slayer of Tutunui can only be identified by his niho kowae, or divided teeth, hence certain women famous in Maori myth were despatched to the home of Kae, there to perform amusing games and grotesque antics, in order to cause the people to laugh and thereby expose their teeth. These women were Hine-te-iwaiwa, Raukatauri, Raukatamea, Hine-awhi-rangi, Ruhiruhu and others. The final act, a haka, song and posture dance, which caused all to laugh and led to the identification and death of Kae, was led by Raukatauri.

The term rehia, denoting amusements, is now obsolete in the vernacular, having been replaced by the less precise expressions ahuareka and ngahau. The precision and punctiliousness for which the Maori tongue was formerly remarkable, has now to a great extent been abandoned, and is met with only in legendary matter as preserved by old men. An old time Maori would have alluded to boys' games as 'nga rehia a nga tama tane.'

The communistic social system of the Maori people, combined with the absence of a graphic system whereby to conserve their ancient lore, and provide recreation, caused them to carefully preserve their unwritten literature, and to rely much on games, pastimes and vocal music as a means of passing winter evenings and other periods of leisure. Thus it was that considerable prominence was given to all means of recreation, in many of which adults took part, while page 13even old men sometimes participated in games, or would spend much time in the manufacture of toys for children and certain paraphernalia employed in games played by adults.

Apart from a considerable number of games and pastimes whereby to wile away his evenings and idle days, the Maori evolved and preserved by means of oral tradition a great mass of myths, folk tales and demon lore. The recital of the popular forms of such stories was a much favoured pastime among young and old. The orthodox sacerdotal versions of such superior myths as those concerning the origin of man and the offspring of the primal parents, were not discussed in public, but were known only to the initiated, though popular versions, 'fireside stories,' of such myths were known to all and related at pleasure. Perhaps the most interesting feature of Maori myths is that illustrating the genius of the men of yore for personifying almost every conceivable thing, heaven and earth, the elements, natural objects, moral qualities and mental activities. Only a small proportion of this mass of legendary lore has been collected, but even that is of such volume as to call for the publication of a volume of imposing size.

Polack, an early writer on Maori customs, remarks on the lack of any definite arrangements with regard to games, as to time and performance. He should have taken into account the habits and domestic economy of the people, and made further enquiries. He would then have found that the Maori indulged in amusements at night, and during his leisure time, such intervals of leisure depending upon the season. Thus, during the periods of crop planting, harvesting, and some other operations, the Maori had but little leisure time, while at other periods he was free to devote time to amusements, visiting, etc. The recreations of these folk may be tabulated as follows:—

1.Recreations of children. These pertained to all or any hours of day or night, for children led a care-free, joyous, outdoor life until old enough to take part in domestic tasks, and even then were treated indulgently.
2.Ordinary meetings of the members of one, two or more families of a hamlet, or of the young folk of a village, in a house, or on the village plaza, at night or on free days.
3.Large meetings such as hakari (ceremonial feasts), harvest festivals, political meetings, etc., when the members of one or more sub-tribes, or of a tribe, assembled together, and many forms of amusement were indulged in, including contests between different members or sections of the community.page 14
4.Specially arranged contests between the members of different village communities, when one party of people, accompanied by friends of all ages, would visit another hamlet for the purpose of playing a match. Such contests might consist of physical combats, such as wrestling or para whakawai (trial of skill with weapons), or canoe racing (paddling); or they might be games of skill, such as posture dances, ti rakau, dart throwing, etc. Kite flying contests were also held, and even what we look upon as trivial amusements provided means for specially arranged contests. Thus the Tuhoe folk used to visit neighbouring villages to play a match at knucklebones or jackstones, the ruru or koruru of the Maori. Such gatherings were much enjoyed as social meetings.

We thus see that, albeit the Maori had no statutory half holiday, a fact that Polack seems to have deplored, yet he was able to devote a good deal of time to the pleasures of life, and also was in the habit of making definite arrangements in regard to certain games. Lacking set hours of labour for the whole year, such as obtained among us, he simply indulged in games when at leisure and he felt so disposed. The Rev. Mr. Yate, an early missionary in the north, wrote as follows on the amusements of the Maori:—"Their list of games is very short: their most delightful recreation is talking, and telling wonders; which exercise occupies most of their idle hours, and many of those which are shrouded in darkness and ought to be devoted to sleep. Before the introduction of the musket, the spear was much used as a sport, to throw at small birds in the woods, or at the ducks on the lakes and rivers … Running, climbing, swimming, wrestling, flying kites, and tossing the poi, a ball about the size of a good cricket ball, are most of the games of native origin."

Now to throw a spear at a duck would be about as effective as throwing it at an eagle, and although some forest birds were speared it was not done by throwing a spear at them. The list of games given above represents but a small proportion of those practised by the Maori in pre-European times. The fact is that both Yate and Polack failed to grasp the effect of the most amazing event of Maori history, viz., the startling irruption of an unknown people whose appearance, language, customs, weapons, garments, vessels, etc., were utterly unlike their own, and of whose existence on the earth they had been entirely ignorant. The advent of Europeans and of their customs and manufactures had a startling and permanent effect on native life, which was to a great extent disturbed and disarranged by such intrusion. One effect of this contact with foreigners was the abandon-page 15ment, more or less sudden, of certain old usages, including indulgence in racial sports and pastimes. So many new interests claimed attention, that some former pursuits and recreations were bound to be practised to a lesser extent, or to fall into desuetude. Among these new interests, the introduction of a new religion claimed attention, and the exponents of the faith appear to have assumed a somewhat unfortunate attitude towards the various recreations of the Maori. Few of the old Maori games and pastimes were in any way harmful, the majority of such may be viewed as media through which was vented the natural desire for cheerful social intercourse. According to both native and European evidence, a policy of repression seems to have been instituted, one that could not be termed wise or beneficial.

In describing rules laid down by early missionaries for their guidance, an old native explained to Colonel McDonnell:—"We were much puzzled about the new laws made for our people. We were not to spin humming tops on Sunday, or peel kumara or potatoes; they were to be peeled on Saturday evening, or we must boil them in their skins. We were not to gather firewood on a Sunday, or fish, or bathe, etc., etc."

Again, Dieffenbach wrote:—"Their numerous dances, songs and games were regarded as vices, and were not exchanged for others, but were given up altogether. The missionaries, while abolishing the national dances and games, might with safety have introduced those of England." Here we have a fearful vision of the haka posture dances being replaced by, say quadrilles, and wrestling by forfeits or blind man's buff!

Brown remarks that young men and women formerly amused themselves in the evenings by dancing and singing, noting with pride that 'amongst the missionary natives they are entirely discontinued.'

One is reminded of a statement made by Commodore Wilkes in 1839, concerning the natives of Tahiti:—"Social amusements are prohibited by severe penalties, although the people are evidently fond of them."

These two influences appear to have put a stop to most of the old native games and pastimes, but few of which survived. Those that are still practised to some extent are singing, posture dancing (including the poi) and swimming. In the remoter parts of the Tuhoe district some of the simple forms of pastimes and games were still practised to some extent as late as the beginning of the present century. Among these were the ruru or jackstones (knucklebones), cat's cradle, story telling, ti ringa, and certain childish amusements, such as upoko titi, tar a koekoea, hapi tawa and kura winiwini.

page 16

The introduced games or pastimes favoured by the natives are not numerous, and include cards, draughts, hop, step and jump, boxing in European style, and football, the last named being usually played in conjunction with Europeans. The concertina and mouth organ have been favoured instruments with the Maori, but what we view as superior instruments, as also such games as chess, do not, apparently, appeal to the Maori.

The following remarks on Maori games were made by Polack, who lived at the Bay of Islands for some years in the 'thirties' of last century:—"Among the active games indulged in are foot racing, climbing, swimming, canoe racing, in which they excel … Mock fights are represented in every visit, reeds, etc., being substituted for deadlier weapons. Throwing spears and reeds at a given mark is also a favourite amusement, but they do not excel."

This is a very poor list and could have been much lengthened. The throwing of spears was not a common practice in war, for the Maori of old did not take kindly to missile weapons. In his principal game of dart throwing such darts were thrown in a curious underhand manner never employed in the casting of a spear.

G. F. Angas, a sojourner in this land in the 'forties,' also gives a very short list of native games, but many of them had been abandoned at that date. He wrote as follows:—"The children are cheerful and lively little creatures, full of vivacity and intelligence. They pass their early years almost without restraint, amusing themselves with the various games of the country: such as flying kites, which are formed of leaves; the game of maui (cat's cradle); throwing mimic spears made of fern stalks, and sailing their tiny flax canoes on the rivers, or watching them tossed about by the waves of the sea. These are the most favourite sports of these merry and interesting children."

The Rev. J. Stack contributed the following in a paper published in the Report of the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science for 1891:—"The children played a variety of games with tops, balls, kites and swings. The youths engaged in wrestling and running, leaping with poles, skipping in squads of ten or a dozen together, and foot and canoe races … They beguiled the long winter evenings by reciting historical traditions and tribal genealogies, by repeating poetry and fairy tales, and by songs, dances, flute-playing, and round games."

Thomson, in his account of native feasts (hakari), states that, at the big assemblies that sometimes took place, guests arrived in thousands, and continues:—"Every pastime of the people was celebrated at a hakari. There was dancing, singing, talking, wrestling, racing, throwing spears, crying, climbing, swimming, flying kites, page 17 Fig. 1 Group of Maori Children at Koriniti, Wanganui River. Dominion Museum Photo. playing at ti, tossing the poi ball… Since the year 1840, firing guns, playing cards, draughts, and horse racing have been introduced." Draughts, however, were introduced prior to 1840. The pastime of crying alluded to is the custom of greeting long absent friends with weeping and lamentation. The Rev. R. Taylor strikes a quaint note in Te Ika a Maui:—"But the chief amusement of the females was, and still is, the tangi or crying; the women pride themselves in doing this in the most affecting way."

In Out in the Open is a good account of a modern native meeting, as witnessed about 1880: "Girls and boys here take their share of childish sports, they may be seen skipping, playing at dibs with small potatoes instead of knucklebones, shooting with pop guns made from the wood of the tutu. Tiemi, the swing on the branch, was a never failing source of amusement … Boys and young men, besides the more athletic sports, indulged in games of dexterity, such as throwing at a small bit of stick stuck in a potato, the missiles used were of dried supplejack in pieces about fifteen inches in length, a successful throw called forth loud acclamations from the line of onlookers. In another game on level ground, a small square of about eighteen inches was marked out, the centre divided into three compartments, the player stood about five yards from the square and page 18tried to pitch a match into one of the compartments, each of which bore a certain value, payable in matches to a successful player. Sparring, wrestling, standing or running, long or high jump, were amongst the favourite athletics. The high jumping was especially good. But all these pastimes had to yield the palm to the hop step and jump, which seemed to be constantly practised. Within the camp you could often count twenty groups where this game was being played; it excited a very lively interest amongst the spectators."

In an essay on the Maori race contributed by the Rev. W. Colenso to Vol. I. of the Transactions of the New Zealand Institute, occurs the following paragraph:—"Of games and diversions the New Zealanders had several; some of them were remarkably innocent. For children they had the whipping top, which, curiously enough, closely resembled the common English one; also a game called whai, played with a string, much like the 'cats cradle' of English children; and another called poi, played with a large, light, ornamental ball attached to a short string. Young men often strove for the mastery in short spear exercises, and in projecting long dry fern stalks over a piece of level ground or sandy beach; and in wrestling, running, leaping, hopping with or without a pole, climbing, swinging, paddling a small canoe, swimming and diving; in the last three mentioned the girls also took part. They had also, for the young of both sexes, games of guessing, in one of which a pebble was hidden among a company; of repeating long involved sentences without stay or hesitation; of singing; and of regular gesticulation by a company all sitting. They had various dances, some of which were mostly performed in their villages by the young women, while the rougher dances, accompanied with grimaces, and defiance, and brandishing of weapons, culminating in the hideous war dance, were generally executed by the adult men. In dancing, however, with the sole exception of the war dance, and also in swimming and other aquatic exercises, they were very much inferior to the other Polynesians. Old men often amused themselves with looking on and encouraging the younger ones, and especially with kite flying and in playing with the poi ball. Their kites (pakaukau) were wholly different from Europeans ones, and more resembling those of the Chinese. They were very ingeniously and neatly made with round and flat rushes, and hovered very prettily in the air. They usually sang or chanted a song to the kite while flying it."

This is a somewhat better list of native recreations of pre-European times, but is still far from being complete.

In the speech made by Ropata Wahawha in 1872, alluded to above,page 19he gave a list of recreations, etc., indulged in at the annual harvest feasts. These were:—

2.Toreherehe. Toboggan.
3.Kai whakatapaepae or Puru whakatapaepae. Presentation of food supplies to visitors.
4.Kokomo. Presents made to visitors.
5.Tumahana. Return present for a kokomo.
6.Kaihaukai. Social meeting, feast and presentation of food supplies.
7.Haka. Singing and posture dancing.
8.Poi. Singing and posture dancing, played with a ball.
9.Whakahoro taratahi. Kite flying.
10.Potaka. Tops.
11.Poteteke. Somersaults, standing on head, etc.
12.Taupiripiri. Foot race in couples.
13.Mu torere. A game resembling draughts.
14.Whai. Cat's cradle.
15.Panokonoko. A string game.
16.Tarari. Whizzer. Syn. Kororohu.
17.Kikiporo. Time beating sticks.
18.Pakuru. Time beating sticks.
19.Tarere. Swinging.
21.Kurapakara or Kurupakara.
22.Moari. Giant's strides.

This is a fair list but is by no means exhaustive. Nos. 1, 20, 21 and 23 are unknown to the writer. Williams gives tuperepere as the name of ceremonial pertaining to the storing of the kumara crop. Possibly it may include the harvest festival. Kui may be an error for ku, which is the name of a very primitive musical instrument, and also of a game or pastime resembling matimati and ti ringa. Nos. 4 and 5 are names relating to presentations of food, and No. 3 relates to something similar. Nos. 17 and 18 we have held to be two names for the same thing, but Ropata gave both names, as though representing two different things.

Native children played a number of simple games in former times, but, unfortunately, no early European resident took the trouble to record them. They were fond of imitating the tasks of their elders, and learned to swim about as soon as they could walk.

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Though the Maori never evolved or borrowed any system of writing or hieroglyphs, and rock paintings are rare, yet he took much interest in his decorative art, many of the designs of which are highly artistic, and derived much pleasure from the arts of painting, wood carving and weaving. Many natives are quite skilful at delineating objects, but, for lack of suitable materials, such skill was confined to the above lines. The following remarks were made by the Rev. Mr. Yate many years ago:—"They are fond of imitation, and, if instructed, with a pencil, or with chalk or charcoal on the wall, or with their fingers upon the sands: some draw, with tolerable accuracy, men, horses, cattle, sheep, houses, or any other object; and from recollection, and to amuse themselves, they will frequently sketch a house, a church, or some other building or object, which may have taken their fancy in Port Jackson."

All amusements are spoken of as pertaining to the whare tapere or play house—Nga mahi a te whare tapere. This is largely a figurative expression. Special houses were not constructed in villages for the sole purpose of recreation, but young folk would meet in any dwelling house, or a guest house, that was convenient for the purpose. The whare tapere, says Tuta Nihoniho, was a large house, but an ordinary one, not a superior carved house, and was used as a place of assembly by the people of the village community, or as a house wherein to lodge visitors. It was not specially known as a whare tapere, or set apart as a place for indulgence in amusements or games only; it was merely an ordinary dwelling house save that it was larger than is common. Any dwelling house sufficiently large might be used for the purpose, and, when so used, might be termed, incidentally, a whare tapere, whare ngahau, or whare takaro, or play house, amusement house.

Such a meeting place was much patronised by young folk of both sexes, and they would there pass the evening in story telling, singing, dancing, and playing games, often joined by elderly persons. In the far north whare rehia was the name employed, while whare pakimairo seems to be a Taranaki name for such a place. Other names applied to it are whare matoro and whare ropa. Whare karioi appears to have an old Polynesian name for similar places.

In order to light the interior of houses at night, that is the larger houses wherein a number of people dwelt and wherein amusements were often indulged in at night and on stormy days, superior kinds of fuel were sought. The best for this purpose is said to have been the wood of the maire tree, both kinds being so used, the maire rau nui (large leaved maire) and maire rau ririki, Olea lanceolata and O. montana, or the tree with the small leaf, the former being looked page 21upon by the Maori as the female tree, and the latter as the male tree. The woods of these trees, when burned, give forth little or no smoke. Natives believe that the maire trees growing at places well exposed to the sun are better for such fuel than those growing in more shaded places, the timber of the latter being more liable to smoke when burned. These woods were split into small pieces, an inch or so thick, and 2½ft. or 3ft. long, and stored in a house to dry out. A single stick of good maire will, if kindled at the top, continue to burn until consumed. For the purpose of lighting a house, a number of such pieces were tied together in several places with pieces of aka (climbing plants), so as to form a bundle perhaps five inches in diameter. This bundle was set upright in the takuahi or fireplace of the house and kindled at the top, whereon it burned with a steady, clear flame, and without smoke. It is said that one of these torches would burn all night, which probably means that it would do so as long as required, possibly until midnight. In large houses two or three such torches might be used at once for illumination. They are said to have needed no attention in the way of 'snuffing,' or knocking off of ashes, which latter statement may be doubtful. The foregoing is a Ngati-Porou contribution.

The following account of how visitors were occasionally entertained at night on the village plaza was collected by the late Mr. John White:—

In some cases entertainments were given on the marae or plaza of the village home. This would be done in cases where a considerable number of visitors had arrived and, as was customary, were entertained during the evening of the day of their arrival by the village. On succeeding evenings the visitors would join in the games, and also probably give an exhibition of posture dances, etc., for the benefit of their entertainers.

When such assemblies could not be held inside a house on account of there not being one sufficiently large for the purpose, it might be decided to hold the entertainment on the marae. This plaza, or open, level space, was illuminated for the occasion by means of fires or torches. The torches were of pitch pine, each composed of pieces of resinous heart wood, termed kapara or mapara, of the white pine (kahikatea) tied together to form a bundle. These were about four feet long and were stuck in the ground in a vertical position. These were lighted at the top and burned freely, albeit they required 'snuffing' at intervals. For this purpose a youth was stationed at each torch who, with a short stick, occasionally trimmed the torches by knocking off the burned part.

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Such carefully arranged entertainments as required the above described arrangements were held on such occasions as the arrival of a party of invited visitors, or at the conclusion of peace making functions between two tribes, or sub-tribes. In Maoriland all matters affecting the people were arranged at meetings, and, according to the importance of the subjects to be discussed, a meeting might be a mere gathering of a whanau (family group), the folk of a single village, or an assembly of all the divisions of a tribe. Again, amusements entered largely into the proceedings of all assemblies of the people save those pertaining to active warfare, they were indulged in at meetings pertaining to birth, marriage, death, exhumation, crop planting, harvesting, fishing, hunting, peace making, and other matters. At all such gatherings were practised the pastimes of children, the diversions of youth, and often specially arranged contests. The writer has seen mourning ceremonial pertaining to death or exhumation being conducted on a village plaza, while young folk were indulging in various recreations hard by.

The marae, open space or plaza of a village, was a favoured place for the practise of games in fine weather, not only when visitors were being entertained, but also at all other times. At night, or on stormy days, some large house provided shelter and served as a whare rehia. At the same time the Maori has not the fear of the elements that we have; note what Colenso says in an account of his crossing the Ruahine range in winter, when he saw native children, naked to the four winds, gambolling in the snow.

The Maori did not formerly indulge in gambling in his games, but he did try to influence luck by the recital of charms, termed karakia, in games requiring skill. In some cases, as in the simple pastimes of the children, these so called karakia are mere jingle nonsense, but carry a rythmical lilt pleasing to the native ear.

Some native games were played by persons in a sitting position, others necessitated standing and considerable action. Native clothing consisted of two garments, a kilt or apron, and a cape or cloak. In many games the latter was so arranged as not to interfere with motions of the arms, or discarded, perhaps slipped down and folded round the waist, if the position of the wearer was a sitting one. It was owing to the frequent exposure of body and limbs that Maori mothers strove to produce symmetry of form in their offspring. Thus infants were subjected to a kind of massage, termed toto, in many cases, and this is said to have caused comeliness of form. In the case of girls, grace of action was believed to be learned by frequently practising certain recreations and excercises, such as posture dancing, and some others.

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The encouragement given to such games as were looked upon as military exercises, or which made for agility and precision, was a marked feature of Maori life, and a factor that was noted in other groups by early writers. Thus Ellis tells us that spear throwing, the use of the sling, wrestling and boxing were all deemed military exercises at Tahiti. As to girls and young women, they were encouraged in practising certain exercises that were held to endow them with grace of action.

At first sight Maori recreations would appear to readily come under three separate headings:—Exercises; Games; Pastimes. On a closer examination, however, it is clearly seen that, in a number of cases, no specific line can be drawn between these divisions. An exercise may be practised merely for training purposes, as fitting the young men for bearing arms, it may be played as a game, or merely as a pastime. "Without the factor of success or failure," writes the author of The Handbook of Folk-lore, "plays are not games, but pastimes … but any simple pastime at once becomes a game by the addition of an element of contest." Thus swimming, jumping, running, etc., may be practised as either pastimes or games, or may be elevated to the dignity of exercises. All athletic games and pastimes were held to be useful exercises, as training youths for bearing arms in the future, the hand to hand combats of the Maori demanding not only strength and endurance, but also a high degree of agility, quickness of hand, body and eye. The term kaipara is a generic expression embracing all athletic games; para whakawai and whakahoro rakau denote trials of skill and training with weapons. Ahuareka and ngahau are applied to all recreations nowadays, having replaced the practically obsolete term rehia, which was more precise. Since the arrival of Europeans on these shores, the Maori tongue has deteriorated to a considerable extent, the precise phraseology and terminology, the punctilious observance of archaic forms and of refined, courtly diction, for which the old time rangatira was remarkable, have to a great extent disappeared.

The mode of classification of native games herein followed is an arbitrary one, but explanations are given throughout to show where one class infringes upon another, and the differing aspects of certain recreations, according to the manner in which they were conducted.