Arts and Crafts of the Cook Islands
Games and Recreations
Games and Recreations
Darts thrown by hand were used throughout Polynesia, except in Easter Island. The additional method of throwing with a short knotted cord attached to a handle occurred in the Cook Islands, Marquesas, Hawaii, Samoa, and New Zealand. Hence, both methods must have been introduced in the Cook Islands by the first settlers.
Throwing discs of polished stone were used in Hawaii and of coral in Samoa. Stone cylinders that could have been used for bowling were found in New Zealand in a restricted area, but no native information regarding their use was procured. Though they are absent in the neighboring Society and Austral Islands and in such important areas as Marquesas, Tuamotu, Mangareva, and Easter Island, the distribution to three marginal areas would imply that they belong to the first period of settlement. As stone and coral were used in the three other areas, a change from this material to wood evidently took place locally in the Cook Islands (fig. 157).
The common form of dart throughout Polynesia was a straight piece of cane or wood from two to four feet long. In western Polynesia, a variation took place in the addition of a head of heavy wood to a long, light shaft. In the Cook Islands, variation took place in the form of the teka kiore (fig. 156, b) and the teka ta manu'iri (fig. 156, c).
Pitching discs (fig. 158) offer a problem, for in the Cook Islands they were used only in Mangaia and they were absent in central, northern, eastern, and southern Polynesia. The game appears, however, in Tonga and Samoa (73, pp. 563, 564). The Samoan game is termed lafonga and the discs are tupe, whereas in Mangaia both the game and discs are termed tupe. Though the Mangaian discs are carved from wood, the upper cone-shaped surface page 456of the discs bears some resemblance to the rounded upper surface of the Samoan coconut-shell discs. In spite of differences in the material of the discs and the form of the mats, the number of discs used and the method of pitching and scoring are the same in Samoa and Mangaia. The weight of evidence is against independent evolution in the two areas. Mangaian traditional history records that the Tonga'iti people who arrived in Mangaia after the Ngariki original settlers, came from the west. I believe that the Tonga'iti or some other seafarers brought the game from western Polynesia directly to Mangaia and that it spread no farther. In Mangaia, a local change took place in the form of the disc and the mat.
Dart throwing, disc throwing, and disc pitching can still be demonstrated in the islands but they are gradually giving way to cricket, football, and tennis.