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Games and Pastimes of the Maori

The Pakuru, Pakakau, or Kikiporo

The Pakuru, Pakakau, or Kikiporo

This simple instrument is nothing more than a straight piece of wood which is tapped with a smaller piece. A specimen measured was 15 in. long, 1¼ in. wide at one end, ¾ in. at the other, one side being flat and the other convex. One end was held lightly by the fingers of the left hand, its other end was put between the teeth of the operator, when it was struck with a wooden tapper held in the right hand. Thus it was a kind of time beater to the songs called rangi pakuru, sung at the same time by the operator. Some of these ditties are apparently meaningless, such as this one:—

"Kiri pakapaka, kiri pakapaka
Kiko kore, kiko kore, kiki
Tau ka riri, ka riri
Tau ka rara, ka rara
Kai patu ki, patu kahakaha
Hai konei turei ai tana niho, tana niho
Pakakau, pakakau tu tahi, tu rua, tu toru
Tu whai mai na ki to mate o te aitu
Tōtō poro kuri, poro kuri, poro tangata
Poro tokorua nga whakahaukanga
Kikiporo, kiporo, kiporo, ki poro kuri
Toro rororo, turi raukaha, kiki to."

Follows another rangi pakuru of a less gibberish like composition:—

Haramai ana te riri i raro
I a Muriwhenua, i a Te Mahaia ra
E hara teke pakupaku e ko
Kai te uru, kai te tonga, kai te rakau pakeke
Khi! Aue!
Takoru te ratio o Te Kete
I te ngaunga iho a tatai arorangi… ha!
Kai riri koe ki te waihotanga iho o te parekura
Ko Maunga-tautari
Te tangata tirotiro mo te aha ra, mo te hanga ra
E tatari tonu mai te hanga kiki to
Toro rororo, turi raukaha, kiki to."

The pakuru was made from pieces of matai, kaiwhiria or mapara wood; the latter being the hard, durable heart wood of Podocarpus dacrydiodes. Some of these instruments were adorned with carved designs, others were almost plain, except the serrated edges. In some cases a number of persons joined in a performance of singing and tapping the pakuru. A good specimen is in the possession of Major-General Robley; it shows one end and one side carved, and the tapping stick has a disc of Haliotis shell set in its thicker end. This page 309tapper is six inches long and is attached to the pakuru by a string passing through the carved end of the latter, and on the string are strung a number of Dentalium shells. The dark bands seen have been produced by agency of fire. The string is double and looks like one of the old Dentalium necklaces. See Fig. 110 (p. 309).

Of the pakakau, Colenso writes "Two small smooth sticks, each about 18 inches long, were made, one of them was held in the mouth, while the other was used to strike that one at the end; the performer at the same time humming the tune."

In his lectures, Mr John White remarks:—"Pakuru: A piece of kaiwhiria wood about twelve inches in length, one end of which is put into the mouth and the other end beaten with a stick, each blow being accompanied by words emitted by the opening and com¬pressing of the lips. These words were a set form." In Vol. II of his Maori History this writer gives the following: "The pakuru was Fig. 110 Three views of an Old Pakuru in the possession of Major-General Robley of London. See p. 309 From Maori Art, by A. Hamilton page 310 made of a piece of matai wood about 18 in. long, and about an inch in diameter, slightly flat in the centre, and tapering a little at each end; the ends were carved and the middle was left smooth. It was suspended from the thumb of the left hand by a piece of string tied to each end of it, so that one end should be a little within the teeth when the mouth was partially open. The performer held in his right hand, interlaced between the three middle fingers, another piece of matai wood, about ten inches long and as thick as a man's middle finger, and with this he struck the suspended stick gently, while he breathed the words of the song, producing the higher or lower tones by closing or opening his lips."

The tapper of a pakuru was occasionally fashioned from whale's bone. Natives state that, though the end of the pakuru is held lightly between the teeth, yet the lips are not allowed to touch it.

With the pakakau of New Zealand may be compared the hura ka raau (hura ta rakau) of the Hawaiians, as described by Ellis. In this case a small stick, six to nine inches in length, was used wherewith to strike a staff five or six feet long, three or four inches in diameter at one end and tapering to a point at the other.