Games and Pastimes of the Maori
Part I — The Lore of The Whare Tapere
The Lore of The Whare Tapere
Military exercises and games viewed as useful training.
|School of Arms||Para whakawai|
|Wrestling||Whatoto or Takaro mamau|
|Jumping||Takaro tupeke. Kai rerere|
|Running. Foot races||Takaro omaoma|
|Slinging||Tipao of kotaha|
Para Whakawai or School of Arms
Under this head comes the careful and continued training of young men in the use of arms, a training that included the use of various weapons, both thrusting and striking, as also the committing to memory of a number of charms or ritual utterances that were held to be extremely effective. Some of these were to render weapons effective in combat, some to make a person fleet of foot in pursuit, or escape, some to retard the speed of a pursuing enemy, and so on. The Maori never lacked a charm to meet any situation. The most careful training was displayed in teaching the most useful art of karo, which term includes not only the parrying of weapons, but also the avoidance of them, the rapid movements of limbs, head and body that evaded thrust or blow, and which the Maori seems to have practised far more than true parrying.
This usage of practising the use of weapons is also known as whakahoro rakau and whakatu rakau. A practice duel or combat between two persons at such functions is a whakarite rakau, whereas a duel or single combat between enemies in wartime is described as a tau mataki tahi. Tatai rakau is equivalent to our expression 'to measure weapons.' These training lessons were carried out under the supervision of proved, experienced warriors, called Ika a Whiro, who taught the various methods of using native weapons, the manipulation of spear and striking implements, the guards, feints, thrusts and blows peculiar to each. Spear points appear to have been padded in these encounters, or at least in the preliminary stages of training.page 25
One of the first lessons to be learned by a youth in this course of training was that which enabled him to detect slight muscular movements that betokened the delivery of thrust or blow by his adversary. He would be taught to keep his eyes fixed on the shoulder, or on the big toe of the advanced foot of his opponent, according to what weapons were being used. When, in so watching the big toe of the forward planted foot (wae whangai) he saw it suddenly clinch downward as though to grip the earth, he knew that action was about to be taken, and a blow or thrust delivered, thus he was prepared to parry or avoid the delivery, and possibly to deliver a blow ere his adversary could recover arms. It is said that, when two good spearsmen became warmly engaged, there was a constant clatter as the spear shafts met in rapid passes, feints and parries.
The following was contributed by Tuta Nihoniho, of the East Coast:—Boys engaged in mimic combats, a practice known as para whakawai, a company being divided into two parties for attack and defence. In this they were encouraged by their parents, as it taught them how to fight. Each child was armed with a korari, the flower stalk of the Phormium plant, which was used as a striking and thrusting weapon. In some cases wounds were inflicted even with these light and easily broken weapons, more often, perhaps, when used as a thrusting spear; in some cases, says Tuta—ka heke he toto— blood would flow. It sometimes occured that, when one or more were hurt, a quarrel would ensue, the children become roused and angry, and, casting away their light implements, they would obtain heavier sticks, or stones, and fight in earnest. This would bring the parents to interfere, who, in some cases, seeing their children hurt, would join in the fray, which brought parents of other children into it, until the adults would have a fight of their own, in which possibly some lives would be lost. Many serious affrays have so originated.
These combats among children were often held in the old days, and applause greeted one who put another out of action.
Spear throwing was not practised so much by the Maori of Zealand as it was by some other branches of the race in Polynesia. The Maori certainly used throwing spears, but not as a common usage in fighting, he preferred a hand to hand struggle, hence spear throwing was not looked upon as so important an exercise as those pertaining to the thrusting spear, the taiaha, the patu, etc. Training in this art commenced with the casting of the light, fragile culms of the toetoe (Pampas grass. Arundo conspicua). In using these frail darts lads learned the art of karo, so much practised by the Maori, the art of parrying and avoiding. At this they became remarkably page 26dexterous, and this skilfulness stood them in good stead in after life. Under certain circumstances a man might be compelled to give satisfaction to an injured person, or persons, by taking up a position on the plaza and allowing them to cast a certain number of spears at him. He was not armed, and was not allowed to retaliate, but he was allowed the use of a small short stick, termed a karo, wherewith to ward off the spears. Some men despised the use of such an aid, however, and were most proficient in parrying spears with their hands. When several spears were thrown at a man in rapid succession, he employed three methods whereby to save himself,—avoidance, parrying, and catching. Thus he might avoid one launched spear by a rapid turn of his body, or leap, parry another, and catch a third in his hand.
In his Te Ika a Maui, the Rev. R. Taylor has the following:—"The paramako [para mako] consisted in throwing sharp pointed sticks at each other, and skilfully warding them off by turning the body away when they saw the dart coming. The para toetoe was more a harmless game. It consisted in throwing the reed like stalks of the toetoe [culms of Arundo conspicua], blunted, at each other. This was a boy's game." Youths practised the art of karo, parrying and dodging, in these dart throwing contests. Rods of mako wood were often used for the purpose, the ends of which were bruised so that no wound might be inflicted.
The late Mr. John White gave wewero toetoe as a name for the exercise of throwing toetoe culms, and describes it as follows:— "A game of casting and parrying reed darts. These reeds were often those of the toetoe-kiwi (Gahnia lacera). They were parried with another such stalk, or with a tao (wooden spear). A pair of players stood about fifty feet apart, and each had a certain number of darts. One of them threw all his darts at his opponent and then stood to receive the ones thrown at him. Great dexterity was displayed in such games, and it is said that some of the skilled men in former times used only the bare hand wherewith to parry spears.
In some of these contests a person would take a reed in each hand, cast one, and then throw the other ere the first one had reached his opponent. In such cases the latter would often parry one dart with his karo or parrying stick, and the other with his left hand."
In describing his visit to Taupo in 1844, Angas writes:—"The boys here also amuse themselves with throwing short spears, made of the stems of fern bound round at the extremity: these they throw with admirable precision at any given object, emulating each other in the nicety of their aim."page 27
On the East Coast spear or dart throwing was often called Maka-maka rakau, and sometimes taumahekeheke, the former being a somewhat general term and the latter implying competition.
This exercise was viewed as excellent training for youths as well as a game. The darts used were straight stems of manuka, about six feet long, and perhaps 1 or l⅛in. in diameter. They were thrown overhand either at a mark or to see which could throw the furthest. Sometimes such darts, or fern stalks, were thrown underhand, a practice described by the word toro, while to throw overhand is timata.
The exercise of wrestling was a common practice among the natives in former times. It was known as whatoto, nonoke, and mamau or takaro mamau; Taylor records the name of takaro ringa-ringa. Takaro, as a noun means game or play, as a verb 'to play' or sport. Taylor remarks, "Wrestling is a very general amusement of young men, who pride themselves on their skill in throwing one another."
Young women occasionally took part in wrestling, we are told. Old Kurawha, of Maungapohatu, she who always greeted the writer with the quaint old salutation—"Ina na!" was a famous wrestler in her youth. In some cases one young man would wrestle two young women, but Kurawha was enough for any man to handle. She might be termed a good all-round man, for she shouldered a musket in the Mohaka raid, and she and Whaitiri (another Amazon) were two of the leading spirits in the vigorous rearguard action when Te Kooti retreated from Rotorua, pursued by Te Arawa under Tawa the Tireless.
The use of charms whereby to strengthen oneself for the contest, and also to weaken an adversary, was apparently common in wrestling bouts. Among the Tuhoe tribe, when a man was about to engage in such a contest, he would expectorate into his hand, close it, and repeat the following in order to acquire desired strength:—
"Taku uaua ko te rangi e tu nei
Taku uaua ko Papa e takoto nei
Whiri kaha, toro kaha te uaua."
Having repeated this effusion, he then opened his hand, and proceeded to recite a second charm whereby to weaken his adversary:—
"Te umu a te ruhi, a te ngenge, a te paro
A tineia kia mate
Te umu tuku tonu te ika ki te Po
Te umu tuku tonu, heke tonu te ika ki te Reinga
Ka mui te rango, totoro te iro
The following charm is another employed by wrestlers and by those engaged in spear throwing competitions:—
"Karo taha, karo taha te karanga a te po
Tahuri atu, tahuri mai, e tipi ki ninihi
I aua hoki taku kiri nei kia tu maniania
Kia tu pahekeheke, kia tu mai whakaariki
He wai, he wai kai taku kiri
E haramai ana te kumara i ao nui, i ao rangi
I a tuturu ki te rangi, i a apaapa ki te rangi
Tuturu ki te rangi, ka mau ki te rangi
Puehu nuku, puehu rangi
Puehu nuku, puehu rangi
This formula was used among the Ngati-Porou folk of the East Coast, who also gave the following as terms describing certain actions in wrestling:—
|Mamau||A general term for the exercise of wrestling.|
|Nonoke||A general term for the exercise of wrestling.|
|Ta.||Contestants grip each other by arms; not a body hold; fall caused by a sudden thrust.|
|Kairaho.||To grasp opponent by legs, lift and throw him.|
|Whiri.||To throw adversary across out thrust leg.|
|Mutu.||A sudden yielding to opponent's pressure, and quick recovery, turning opponent's body undermost.|
|Mamau.||Another form of arm grip.|
|Awhiawhi.||A body grip.|
The Tuhoe folk employ the following terms:—
(The term rou denotes the out thrust leg.)
The following charm was one repeated by wrestlers on the East Coast, repeated quickly and silently just prior to clinching:—
"Tipua te mamau, tahito te mamau
Hei kona koe noho mai ai
Noho ki tipua, noho ki tahito
Noho ki marua a nuku
Te hongi, te kata, te tangi te umere."
Usually each man seems to have endeavoured to clasp his opponent under the arms. Quarrels and even serious affrays are said to have sometimes arisen out of wrestling contests.
Wrestling held an important place among exercises at Tahiti, where it had its own tutelar deity, and spectacular exhibitions were page 29given. Ellis gives a detailed account of such meetings, and the ceremonial that preceded and succeeded them. Women sometimes engaged in wrestling.
Boxing was known as mekemeke and whawhai mekemeke. The Maori preferred to have a weapon in his hand when arguing with an adversary, but seems to have occasionally fought with his hands alone, possibly, however, only in family quarrels. The meke mode of boxing was the same as ours, striking with the clenched fist so as to hit with the knuckles, whereas the moto method implies striking with the closed fist so as to hit with the side of it, i.e., with the edge of the palm and the little finger. This latter method is said to have been used in quarrels with a near relative. It is not clear that actual boxing contests were held, though there is some evidence in favour of it, as Tuta informs us that the same charm was used in this exercise as that recited when wrestling, save that the word meke was inserted in place of mamau.
Boxing was practised by the natives of the Society Group, where it was called moto, or motora'a (motoranga). As in New Zealand, it was there looked upon as a minor exercise, and not practised to the extent that wrestling was. Ellis states that no sparring or parrying was done, but only straightforward punching blows, usually aimed at the head.
John Ledyard, who was a corporal of marines on the Resolution in Cook's third voyage, gives us a few observations on the art of boxing as practised by Polynesians. Describing an exhibition of such among the Tongans, he says:—"They had both hands clenched and bound round separately with small cords, which perhaps was intended to prevent their clenching each other when closely engaged, thus preventing foul play; or it may be to preserve the joints of their fingers, and especially the thumb, from being dislocated … They are very expert and intrepid in these performances."
Of the natives of the Society Group the same writer says:—"Their amusements are music, dancing, wrestling and boxing, all of which are like those of Tongatapu."
Again, in describing experiences at the Hawaiian Isles, Ledyard writes:—"The day was closed with gymnastic exercises, wrestling and boxing, ordered by the old king for the amusement of his guests."
Different forms of jumping were indulged in, and served both as an excercise and pastime. The general name for such was takaro page 30tupeke in the north, while kai rerere denoted a practising of the long jump. Vaulting with a pole, termed tutoko, was apparently confined to vaulting across a stream, and similar exercises, the high vault not being indulged in. The hop step and jump, introduced by Europeans, has quite taken the place of the above forms of jumping.
Apart from running as a pastime, as practised by children, foot racing was practised by youths and young men. The most interesting form of this exercise was the running of long distance races. In such contests no swift running was done, the runners employing the singular bent knee trot so much practised by the barefooted Maori of former generations. Such races tax the powers of endurance rather than demand fleetness of foot. The writer was told of one such contest that took place between Te Teko and Te Whaiti, a distance of nearly fifty miles. In some cases it was arranged that the competitors should run to some distant place, and, on arrival there, each had to leave a mark at a certain spot, as by marking a tree, or depositing a stone, and then run back to the starting point.
Foot racing is known as omaoma and takaro omaoma. The style termed taupiripiri is one in which competitors run in pairs holding each other round the neck.
The game or excercise known in some districts as ti rakau was termed poi rakau by the Ngati-Porou of the East Coast, titi-touretua by the Tuhoe folk, and titi-tourea by northern tribes. Not only was it viewed as a game and useful exercise for lads and young men, but it was also practised by girls. In the latter case it was considered beneficial inasmuch as it tended to make young women active, adroit, lissome, for the performance of posture dances. This exercise is termed ti rakau on account of there being another game called, ti, which is played with the hands only, for which reason it was known as ti ringa. Thomson, in his Story of New Zealand, writes:—"The other game called ti is played with sticks three feet long, which are thrown by one party and caught by another. There are twenty players on each side, and the game is accompanied with songs."
Colenso has the following note on this game:—"Another manner of musical performance was by two persons standing about four feet apart, each holding a prepared rod of kaiwhiria wood, of the length and size of a walking stick; these sticks were thrown to and fro alternately, and gently and dexterously caught, but so that they page 31should while passing in the air touch each other, and give out the exact note required; the two performers at the same time chanting their song."
Descriptions given by Tuhoe natives differ from the above. Four sticks were used and care was taken to prevent them striking against each other when thrown. This game called for quickness of eye and hand. Among the Tuhoe folk it seems to have been played with short staves about two feet in length, the players being in a sitting position, a little space separating them. Four of these persons held each a stave, sometimes adorned with carved designs, in a perpendicular position before them, and swung them up and down in time with the cadence of a song, called a ngari titi-to-uretua, chanted by the performers. The players sat in the form of a circle and, at the repetition of certain words in the song, the holders of the staves threw them across the circle, there to be caught by others. There were different motions and ways of casting the staves, each change and movement being notified by certain words in the accompanying song. The implements must be thrown simultaneously; sometimes round the ring of players, at other times across the ring, but always each stave must be caught by a certain person, and by no other. At certain times they are swung, at others placed with the lower ends resting on the ground. The players often, perhaps usually, assume a kneeling position.
Mr. John White describes yet another mode of playing this game, which, with the poi, he says are attributed to one Ruahine:—"The game consisted of the throwing of a piece of wood by one player to be caught by another. These sticks were pieces of whau wood ornamented with carving. The players stand in two rows facing each other and about ten feet apart. The man at one end of a row throws the stick to the man opposite him, who throws it back to No. 2, i.e., the man next the first thrower. It is thus thrown across the space, to and fro, to the end of the line. Anyone who fails to catch it must step out of the ranks. This goes on until all have made a miss save the lone survivor, who thus wins the game. Such a game may last a day or several days, or even for months, played at intervals, ere all but one have missed a catch. It is played in the winter season." Here the word 'months' means occasional meetings during such period.
But the form of this game most highly prized as an exercise was that practised among the Ngati-Porou folk, and known to them as poi rakau. This method resembled dart throwing, and was a semi-military exercise of great benefit to those soon to be called upon to page 32parry, avoid, or catch the weapons of enemies. The following notes were contributed by Tuta Nihoniho: All the performers save one stood, or sat, in a circle, facing inwards, the remaining one occupied the putahi or middle of the ring. Each of the tukunga, or persons forming the ring, has a stick about three feet long in his hand. These sticks are pieces of mako (Aristotelia racemosa), a, very light wood when seasoned, and are ornamented with the tawatawa method or design, that is by stripping off its bark, then winding a strip of that bark spirally round the stick from one end to the other, and then charring slightly the intermediate spaces between the spiral turns, thus leaving the stick ornamented with a black and white spiral design, when the strip of bark is taken off again. This tawatawa design took its name from the anuhe tawatawa, or striped caterpillar.
These sticks were thrown by the performers in the ring at the man in the putahi, who had to, or endeavoured to, catch every one thrown. The ends of the sticks were pointed, and they were often thrown at him end on, that is darted (wero) at him like spears, thus he had to be extremely nimble in order to catch them. He was not allowed to move from the middle of the ring, but no one might throw the sticks at him from behind his back. As he caught the sticks, he at once threw them to some stickless member of the circle, to be caught by him. The putahi, or catcher, or base keeper, often had to catch two sticks at once. The performers in the circle threw their sticks one after another, a director standing outside the circle acted as instructor and directed the movements as to throwing, etc., and the sticks were thrown in time to the lilt of the song chanted by the performers. The following is one of the songs sung during this singular performance:—
"Titi tore whakanoho ke to karakia
Ko te tihi tapu hoki te kapua, ko te ra to hoki
Ka riakina ki runga ka hakahaka ki raro
Ahaha! Poi tahi, poi rua, poi toru
E kai whakakoa ana Pareapa ki te huruhuru tipua
Kai te heni kai raro, ahaha!
Te takina ai hihi, ahaha!
Hapai rawa te kahika
E hara, na te hoa i tiki mai.
Whakamoe te rongo, te riri, te taua
A kapu pu, kapa pa!
Kapu pu rakau marangai atu, aue Hine-koromaki
Ra te ahi, ka tore kai whea, kai roto,
Kai whea, kai waho. Ahaha!
Kia whakapuhekotia to pu toko tore, ara ra … e.
Ko hine ko kaurite kauriko. Ara ra … e!
Iti te kai po tahi… e! Iti te kai po rua … e!
Kohine rapa te whai au, kohine rapa te whai au
Makatiti, makatata, e makatiti … e!
E reko, e reko; e ngara, e ngara; e hui, e aka
Kawea ka taunake te umu o te puhipuhi
Ki tawharau roa ki uta, ki uta ki te ngaherehere
Tu te tira no moetara, moetara te tara, tara tetere no Tuwhana
Tuwhana taku tara, … E kapu pu, kapa pa."
Such is one of the peculiar jingles repeated by the performers of the ti rakau. It is not possible to render it into English, except perhaps by persons having the slimmest knowledge of the Maori tongue. To many of the expressions our native friends can assign no meaning—if they ever had any meaning. This is the haka sung by Ngati-Ira at Pakau-rangi, what time they jeered at Tawhiu-pari, and brought the war dogs of Porou on their trail, to be followed by the long drawn agonies of the Puweru-maku siege, the tragedy of the Wetted Garments, when the dying children sucked the moisture from the clothing of their parents who had fought their way through the investing force to wet those garments in the stream.
As the performers of ti rakau sang this song, they held their sticks upright in their hands, and moved them up and down in time with the peculiar metre of the song. This exercise was deemed an excellent training for youths, inasmuch as they had to catch the pointed wooden sticks darted at them as, in a few years, they would be compelled to catch or parry the spears of enemies in battle.page 34
The Arawa folk of Rotorua have recalled this old diversion of their forbears during the past few years as shown in Fig. 2 (see p. 33). The following couplets were sung by women of that place when indulging in the game. The last two lines are very modern, and we have much better ngari tititoure than this. As the players commence they repeat together the words, "Tahi, rua, toru," and then commence to chant the time song. One player has no sticks, the others are provided with two each, which they hold in an upright position one in either hand. These sticks are thrown one at a time, the first throw being, of course, to the player who is not provided with sticks. They are deftly caught, and at certain parts of the song are clashed together by the performers.
"Engari te marama i kite pai i a koe
Ko ahau i kite moemoea … e.
Hua hoki au ko Tiritiri-matangi
Kaore iara ko Tin rau rewai… e
I runga ahau i te paki e tuhituhi ana
I te whika taku pena i a Kauriki… e.
The sticks used in above game were 22 inches in length, as observed by the writer.
Slings and Slinging
It is a well-known fact that the Polynesian was, in many places, much given to the use of the sling in war. Many writers have told us how great a reliance was placed upon the sling by the natives of the Society and Cook Groups, which branches of the race are closely related to the Maori of New Zealand. We also know that carefully rounded sling stones are found in many of those islands, and some were found at Sunday Island, Kermadec Group. It is therefore surprising to hear so little of the sling in local tradition here, where it is never mentioned as one of the weapons used in fights of bygone days. The whip-thrown spear is occasionally mentioned in such traditions, but not the stone sling; neither are any fashioned sling stones found here. We know that these islands were settled by immigrants from the Society Group in past times; did those immigrants discard the sling on their arrival here?
Some natives now living, and others of the last generation, have stated that the sling was used here to some extent in former times, as in the attack or defence of a pa (fortified village), but such statements are doubtful. Similar statements are made concerning the bow and arrow by present day natives. If the sling was used in war by the Maori, it must have been only to a limited extent, and even that much is doubtful. Its use as a pastime or game is another matter.page 35
Names for the sling given by natives are kotaha, maka, and tipao. The first of these is also applied to the whip by means of which spears were thrown, and also to another apparatus for throwing stones, in which a bent rod was the propelling agent.
Tuta Nihoniho has explained that the sling used for stone throwing on the East Coast was called tipao or kotaha, that it was used by lads as a pastime, and also, he believed, in attacking a village. It was on account of the use of these implements, as well as whip-thrown spears and hand-thrown stones, that protective breast works were constructed on the fighting stages of a fortified village. Two kinds of sling were used in throwing stones; one which had a woven or plaited receptacle for the stone in the middle of the cord, and another in which the stone was placed in a cradle resembling a sheepshank formed in the middle of the cord.
Among Ngati-Porou the name of tipao was applied, not only to the sling for throwing stones, but also to the following contrivance employed by children:—A short stick was stuck into some soft object, such as a potato, and a cord fastened by one end to the projecting end of this stick, and by the other end to a stick used as a handle or whip. The throwing was done in the same way as in casting the whip-thrown spear, by a quick jerk forward that cast the object a considerable distance.
The childish pastime of kakere consisted of thrusting a pointed stick into some soft object, and then 'flirting' it off, by which means such a missile as a potato may be thrown a considerable distance.
These East Coast folk also applied the name of tipao to another stone-throwing implement, described as follows:—A pole of green page 36 titoki (Alectryon excelsum) was thrust butt down into the ground, and a cord fastened to its upper end, which was then bent over considerably, and held in that position by a person grasping the cord, as seen in Fig. 3 (p. 35). On the face of the bent pole a stone was held by one who kept it in position with his fingers, but with his hand behind the pole. At a signal, the cord holder released the cord, and the released spring pole cast the stone forward with much force. This was used by youths in sport.
The whip-thrown spear, termed kopere, whiuwhiu, and tarerarera, was not only employed as a weapon, but also lads used rude darts or rods, thrown in a similar way—by way of sport. The butt end of the dart was thrust into the earth in a slanting manner, so that the point was two feet or more above ground. (See Fig. 4, p. 37.) The kotaha, or whip, consisted of a straight rod with a short cord attached to one end. The free end of this cord was wound round the spear or dart in a peculiar manner, but not tied or made fast in any way. The manipulator grasped the rod handle in both hands, and, with a vigorous forward sweep plucked the dart from the earth and hurled it forward. As the dart passed the whip or cord the latter became released, while the dart flew forward on its flight. Mr. Percy Smith, in his account of an attack on the Otakanini pa, states that great numbers of rude spears were so cast into the besieged place by men stationed on a hill 150 yards distant.
Darts were thrown in a similar way by the natives of the Sandwich Islands, though Fornander only mentions the practice as a game. He remarks:—"Its use being with a short string so affixed as to detach itself as it was jerked from the ground for its flight."
Ellis tells us that the use of the stone throwing sling was common at Tahiti, where lads practised it as a military exercise. He says:— "The most dangerous missile was the stone from the ma'a (Maori maka) or sling. The latter was prepared with great care … having a loop to fasten it to the hand at one end, and a wide receptacle for the stone in the centre … The slingers were powerful and expert marksmen."
It seems probable that the stone-casting sling seen in use by persons of Tuta's generation was made known to the Maori by Europeans. Men of that generation are always liable to error, as in maintaining that certain implements, practices, etc., were pre-European, when, as a matter of fact, they had been introduced by early European visitors, traders, etc. We have an illustration of this in the case of the pump drill which certain old natives of the present time maintain was used here prior to the coming of Europeans, of which there is no reliable evidence. The kind used by Maori is the European form page 37 with contained bar, which was introduced in the early days of contact with Europeans. The cord or thong drill was the pre-European form.
Now we cannot be surprised at this attitude of natives towards introduced implements, etc. Not only had men of Tuta's generation seen such things from their earliest childhood, but, in many cases, the same might be said of their fathers. A native now about 65 years of age gave me an account of certain fighting that took place ten generations ago in the Waikato district, but he assuredly erred when he introduced pigs into his tale. Again, I was remarking to a native on the absence of the syllables wo and wu in the Maori tongue, whereupon he said:—"But we always say 'Wo' when we want a horse to stop!"
The use of the stone-throwing sling as a weapon is not referred to in native traditions, and it is very doubtful if it was employed by the Maori of New Zealand. We do know that they used the whip cast spear, and also cast burning brands and heated stones into besieged villages by means of a cord attached to them. Further than this we cannot safely go.
Stone throwing by hand was also practised by the Maori, not only as a game and exercise by lads, but also in warfare. Heaps of stones were kept on the high pitched puwhara or fighting stages that projected from the defences of a village, or were secured to the inner sides of stockades. Such weapons were most effective when hurled from such a point of vantage on an enemy force endeavouring to page 38break through the defences. In the story of the fight between Ngati-Ira and the Heretaunga folk at the Otatara pa, near Taradale, we are told that each fighting stage was occupied by five warriors—'me a ratau tokotoko, me a ratau manuka kanoi, me a ratau pukoro kohatu hei whakaruru ki te taua nei,' which presumably should be rendered as—with their spears, and their manuka darts, and their bags of stones to cast at the war party. I cannot see any satisfactory evidence that slings were used by the Maori to cast stones in his old time fights.
Stone throwing by lads was sometimes practised near a tree, each one endeavouring to eclipse his companions in high throwing, the tree serving as a basis of measurement. The long throw was probably a common form, all competitors using the same stone, which was thrown overhand, the distance being marked with a stick. This exercise was known as kai makamaka on the East Coast, a name that might be applied to any throwing game.
Boys threw stones at each other and had to learn to avoid such missiles. In former times boys were trained to be ruthless, and to page 39 strike even a near relative as hard as possible; smart, capable boys at these exercises were commended.
Climbing was also viewed as a desirable exercise, and trees were often plentiful enough in the vicinity of native settlements. In some cases a branchless sapling, such as those of the kahika (Podocarpus dacrydioides), was brought from the forest and set up as a climbing post, the climbers practising both with and without the foot cord, a loop in which the feet were inserted. These foot cords were called toeke, taparenga and tamaeke. Ellis and Wilkes both record having seen this foot loop used by natives in Tahiti. See Fig. 5 (p. 38).