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The Maori - Volume II

Certain Games Requiring Manual Dexterity, Etc

Certain Games Requiring Manual Dexterity, Etc.

We begin this series with the game of jackstones, or knucklebones, of world-wide fame. In divers districts this game is known as ruru, koruru, kai makamaka, ti kai, and tutukai; the Maori is nothing if not generous in names. Early voyagers tell us of seeing it played in the isles of Polynesia. Not only children, but also young men and women indulged in it.

In an east coast form of the game five stones are used. Four of these are placed at the corners of a square. The player throws the one stone retained in his hand up in the air, snatches at stone No. 1 and places it in the centre of the square, then catches the descending stone, all with his right page 93 hand. He throws up the tossing stone again, moves No. 3 to the centre, catches the descending stone. Nos. 2 and 4 are moved in like manner. He throws up the one stone again, snatches up the bunched four, and catches the falling stone. This ends the first round, or koropu.

In the second round the same acts are repeated, save that the four stones are snatched up in twos instead of singly. This is more difficult than the first round because the four stones are separated. The third round, called huripapa, is marked by all five stones being thrown up and caught on the back of the hand, or as many as possible. Supposing that two only are so caught, then the other three are placed together, one of the other stones is tossed up, the three snatched up, and the falling one caught. In the fourth round, called kai makamaka, four stones are deposited in separate places, the fifth is tossed up, one snatched up, the descending one caught. The two are then thrown up, another snatched up, the descending two caught. Then the three are thrown up, another snatched up, the falling three caught, and so on until all are caught in the hand, if the player be smart enough.

Another informant gives huripapa, koropu, kaparoa and kaimakamaka as the names of the four rounds of the game. The game was a common one in former times. Matches were played as between different villages, and young men keenly desired to excel in games, for the sake of being admired by the young women.

The game differs somewhat as in different districts, and names also differ, but the above is a fair sample of the differing modes of procedure. In some places both hands enter into the catching. In the final act of the Tuhoe form of the game, wherein grouped stones touching each other are snatched up one by one, the player may not cause those left to move, or he loses the round.

This game is called timo at Tahiti. Wilkes saw Samoans playing it in 1839. Forster mentions seeing it at Tongatapu during Cook's second voyage.

Dart throwing was another widespread diversion in the Pacific. The dart is called teka, pehu, neti and niti by the Maori, whose favourite dart was a straight fern stalk (stipe page 94 of Pteris aquilina). This plant grows in a most luxuriant manner in some favourable situations, and the fronds are seen up to eighteen feet in length.

The dart was about three feet in length, and round one end of it was wound a narrow strip of green Phormium leaf in such a manner as to form a knob like a Turk's head knot; this was the poike, and this end was held forward when the dart was thrown. This knob served to steady the flight of the dart. Each player marked his dart in some way so as to enable him to identify it. The playing ground (marae toro teka) was a level stretch of ground, and, at some distance forward of the base line an earthern mound was formed, the earth being padded down compactly so as to present a rounded, smooth, firm surface. The darts were so cast as to strike this mound and glance off it. They were thrown underhand with the right hand, the end of the forefinger being against the butt end of the dart.

Mr. White mentions that a player took a short run to the base line ere casting his dart. It required much practice to enable a person to so cast the dart that it would just graze the mound and ascend in its flight therefrom. He whose dart carried the furthest won the game. These contests were very popular in Maoriland, and matches were arranged between different villages.

Prior to casting his dart a player would expectorate upon it and repeat a charm to enable him to make a good cast, such as the following: “Fly forward, my dart, like a meteor in the heavens. A dart of Tuhuruhuru cannot be passed. Fly directly forward, arise and descend beyond yon mountain range. May this dart be lucky.” Another form is

“Taku teka, tau e kai ai he tangata
Haere i tua o nga maunga
Me kai koe ki te tangata
Whiwhia; rawea.”

(My dart, let man be assailed by you. Fly beyond the ranges. Assail man and gain success.)

Among the Tuhoe folk the first player to win ten rounds won the game, which was thus a prolonged one. As a player won his first round he called out: “Ka tahi ki rua.” At his page 95 second win he cried out: “Ka rua ki toru,” and so on. At his ninth win he cried: “Ka iwa ki ngahere,” thus changing the form of the word “ten” (ngahuru), for some unknown reason. The cry for the tenth win was: “Ka piro,” equivalent to our expression “out.” Thus did the players keep their tallies.

The dart described above enters into Maori narrative and myth in a very remarkable manner. In many quaint old legends and folk tales we are told of missing persons, and also of far-off unknown places, being located by means of the use of magic darts. In each case the hero in his quest cast his dart, which would fly through space for many miles, and then followed it up until he found it, when he would again cast it, and so on until it led him to his objective. It was in this manner that a hero of old found the prized greenstone of the South Island.

Here is a story of one of these quests with a magic dart. In days of old there dwelt on the rugged coast line north of Taranaki one Ngarue, a famed chief, with his equally famed wife Uru. Certain differences with his wife's folk led Ngarue to abandon his home and seek another in the south, where Taranaki looks down eight thousand feet on the fair plains below. As he left he said to his wife: “Should our child be a son, rear him carefully, and, when he attains manhood, let him seek me by means of the magic dart. Here is the charm he must repeat over it:—

‘Here am I, a follower of thine
O Ngarue of the earth
O Ngarue of the heavens
O Ngarue the absent
O Ngarue of the deep ocean
To thee, O Ngarue!’

Let him cast and re-cast his dart, and follow it ever, so shall we meet again. And now, O my breast clinging companion, farewell. Shame gnaws at my heart like unto the gnawing of the Sea Maid into the flanks of the Earth Mother. It is like the fire of Mahuika burning within me, even my affection for you pales before it. Farewell! Abide in your home. Think not of me, though I will ever greet the mist that hangs page 96 over Pari-ninihi, and conceals you from me. Farewell! A flowing stream can never return to its source, and truly the pangs of affection are keen. Farewell in the summer of our days, for we now part as parted the Sun god and the Dawn Maid in the days when the world was young.” So Ngarue drew away to the wailing of Uru the Fragrant One, and went down into the south land to pass a generation in waiting for his son.

For many years Tioroa had whitened the summit of great Taranaki (Mt. Egmont), throughout many years did Hine-raumati, the Summer Maid, banish Tioroa to the realm of Parawera-nui in the frigid south. And then came the son to seek the father he had never seen. As he left his mother, he said: “Grieve not for me, but look for the gleam of Venus in the heavens on the third night. If not seen, you will know that I have found my father. If not seen, then know that I have been struck down by the hand of man or by Maiki-nui. Then do you cast the gleam of the solar halo into the heavens, as a greeting to me in the spirit world.” Then the son left her and went his way where Hine-moana lashes the rugged cliffs of the western sea. But his mother yet remained on the hill-top when Hine-ahiahi, the Evening Maid, appeared. For of a truth had she now died two deaths.

On reaching Tirau her son found the dart he had cast from his home, and again he cast it. At Mokau he again found it, and at Pari-ninihi, and at Rautahi-o-te-huia, hard by Onaeroa. Here he cast his magic dart for the last time, for this time it fell before the house of Ngarue, at Waitara.

Ngarue sat in the porch of Huirua, his own house, when he saw the dart descend and stick quivering in the earth before him. His companions said: “What can be the origin of this dart?” And one replied: “To my mind it is a supernatural object.” Even so arose certain priests to avert any evil influences possessed by that strange dart. It was then that Ngarue recognised his own magic dart that he had left with his wife long years before, and he knew that a son of his was coming to seek him.

Preparations were now made to receive the coming guests. The dart was deposited at the sacred tuahu. Ere the sun had page 97 weakened a party of strangers was seen approaching, and the people assembled on the village plaza to welcome them. Then rose Ngarue to intone the punctilious query by which one person enquires the name of another: “From whom are we?” The leading man of the strangers replied in like manner: “We are from the Sky Father above and the Earth Mother below. It is I, Whare-matangi, offspring of Uru the Fragrant One, an abandoned parent.”

Ngarue now knew the name of his son. “Welcome! Here am I, your parent, lost unto you even as the moa is lost, and now found by you. Welcome.”

So ends this quaint story, an historical tradition encrusted with myth. It contains the element of the marvellous beloved of uncultured man.

Ti ringa, or matimati, is a game that beareth many names. It consists of very rapid movements of the hands made by two players, who repeat a short jingle as they make the different motions. In some forms of the game the players have to make the same movement at precisely the same time; in others they make different motions, and, presumably, the latter is the more difficult form. The players sit opposite each other and watch intently each other's movements. The description of it sounds somewhat tame and uninteresting, but it is lively and interesting game to watch, so remarkably rapid are the motions made by experts, added to which is the lilt of the recitation that accompanies action.

There are, or were, a number of different forms of this game. In some cases both players made the same movements, ten in all, and these movements were always the same. But in another mode of playing one player made a movement that the other had to imitate so quickly that the two seemed almost simultaneous. The movements consist of bringing the hands together in different ways. The first to win ten of these contests of ten movements each is the winner. In one form of the game, when a player has won a round, he keeps repeating: “Ti tahi—ti tahi—ti tahi” (one ti) until he wins a second round, when he takes up the cry: “Ti rua—ti rua—ti rua” (two ti), and so on to ti ngahuru (ten ti), the game. Thus each player is continually calling out his own tally.

page 98

On parts of the east coast of the North Island the game differs from the Bay of Plenty and southern forms, both as to movements and cry, the word ku taking the place of ti. Among the Tuhoe folk the players make the same movements simultaneously, and the game is called Matimati, on account of the frequent repetition of that word. The cry differs for each movement, as follows:— Matimati!”—Players strike closed hands together. Tahi matimati!”—Same action. Rua matimati!”—Hands opened, fingers extended, right thumb struck across left thumb. Toru matimati!”—Right hand clenched and struck on open palm of left hand. Wha matimati”—Two open hands brought together, fingers interlocked. Rima matimati!”—Thumb of right hand struck between first and second fingers of left hand. Ono matimati!”—Same as first movement. Whitu matimati!”—Same as third movement. Waru matimati!”—Hands open, heels of palms struck together. Iwa matimati”—Same as first movement. Piro matimati!”—Open right hand struck on back and palm of left hand.

This completes the round. The initial words tahi to iwa are the numerals one to nine. Piro means the completion of a game, or “out.” The movements must be made correctly and simultaneously, also with great quickness. In olden times this game was practised from childhood, and thus remarkable dexterity was acquired. This game was also known in Polynesia.

In an east coast form of the game the players made different movements. If No. 2 makes the same motion as No. 1 he is “out.” In this case the players rapidly repeated the following words:—

“Mate rawa! Mate rawa!
Mate rawa! Mate rawa!
Aue mate! Aue mate!”

page 99

This recitation was repeated throughout the continuance of the round.

Another form seen at Gisborne, at the big native meeting held to welcome the return of the Maori battalion from France, was much the same, but the game was called hikawai, and the jingle recited ran:—

“Whakaropiropi ai
Tenei mate homai
Kai te tahi nei ano.”

This was repeated nine times save that the numeral was altered. Pokirua seems to be another name for this game.

The string game of Cats Cradle, known as whai, maui and huhi, was known all over the Pacific in pre-European days. It was a favourite diversion of the Maori folk. The simple forms preserved among English folk fade into insignificance when compared with the intricate designs known to these natives. Adults joined in this, and many other such games, in former times; many of the old designs have been recovered by appealing to old women. The originator of the game is said to have been Maui.

As in other lands, fanciful names are assigned to the different designs, though often one fails to see much resemblance to the object named; the eye of faith is often necessary. Some figures are named after incidents described in native myths, and some of our local figures are met with in far lands. Short rhythmical jingles are repeated in connection with some forms. Females are said to have been extremely dexterous at the game, and in old days contests were common. Hands, feet and teeth were brough into service in forming some figures, and it took several persons to set up some intricate ones.

Each figure had its own special name, and the writer obtained the names of eighteen figures from the Tuhoe tribe, and a number of others from various tribes. Some figures are known far and wide, though names differ as among different tribes. One figure shows the Canoe of Tama-rereti of Maori myth, which is also the name of the Tail of the Scorpion in their star lore. Another shows the rays of Venus, another the Mt. Hikurangi of native tradition, another page 100
Cats Cradle. Dominion Museum photo

Cats Cradle.
Dominion Museum photo

page 101
Cats Cradle (Whai). Dominion Museum collection

Cats Cradle (Whai).
Dominion Museum collection

page 102 is the See-saw, another the House of Takoreke, another Venus, and so on. Some are secondary figures formed from preceding ones. One shows a man escaping from enemies by jumping over a cliff.

Patokotoko, or panokonoko, is a simple string game played by two persons, each of whom was provided with a small strip of Phormium or Cordyline leaf formed into a running noose at one end. The other end of the leaf strip was wound round the forefinger, and the noose end held between the outstretched forefinger and thumb. Each player tried to catch the finger of his opponent in his noose by making rapid passes or darts with his hand.

Above all forms of recreation did the haka, or posture dance, appeal to the Maori, and that on account of his intense love of rhythm in action and recital. Nothing was more highly appreciated by him, and hence this form of diversion is still practised when the old Maori games have passed away, and some quite forgotten.

In this form of amusement the Maori assuredly appears to advantage, on account of the facility with which he keeps time with voice, limbs and body. The rhythmical movements of these so-called dances, with that of the lilting song, or roaring chorus, acts as a stimulant on a native, and he throws himself into a haka with remarkable vigour and enthusiasm. Nor are females lacking in the same spirit. Some of these exercises are performed in a sitting position, in which case naturally the arms and body only partake of the swaying motions. When performed in a standing position the legs are often brought into play, as in the war dance. Great pains were taken by both sexes to acquire free movement of limbs and body, well regulated and rhythmical action, for good performances were much admired by the opposite sex.

These posture dances were performed, not only as an ordinary diversion, but also entered into many ceremonial functions. They formed a prominent feature in the reception of guests, and such occasions were often marked by specially composed songs and genuflections. The best performers were selected for such public exhibitions; they would be adorned with head ornaments and face painting. The upper part of page 103 the body would be nude, a kilt only being worn. Haka were also performed in order to avenge insults, at peace-making functions, during mourning ceremonies, as a means of divination, to express joy, anger, and other emotions. The war dance itself is but a vigorous form of haka performed with weapon in hand. The war dance and the more energetic form of haka surprised many early voyagers, and Crozet records his fear that the deck of his vessel would be stove in with the furious stamping of a horde of natives. The term haka denotes, not only the posture making of these exercises, but also the accompanying song.

Concerning the war dance Earle wrote nearly a hundred years ago: “It was conducted with so much fury … that at length I became quite horrified, and for some time could not divest myself of the feeling that our visitors were playing false, so closely did this mock combat resemble a real one. The dreadful noises, the screeching of the women, and the menacing gestures … were so calculated to inspire terror, that stouter hearts than mine might have felt fear.” Such is the Maori war dance, and it is doubtful if any people can possibly look more fiendish than the Maori does at such a time. Certainly none could excel him in the protruding of tongues and the art of pukana. The latter term denotes distortion of the face and wildly staring eyes. Be it remembered that the more vigorous forms of haka bear a close resemblance to the war dance. Of such exhibitions Earle wrote that they “are truly dreadful, and fill the mind with horror.” Those of us, however, who have been familiar with such scenes from youth are not so affected.

The posture dances of a milder nature are pleasing performances, so admirably do the actors keep time in the rapid, rhythmical movements, while the accompanying chaunt is rendered with a lilt that is quite attractive. As Dr. Thomson observed of certain forms of haka, the forced expirations and inspirations are very effective and produce a singular wildness; these peculiarities may be either fiercely emphatic or of a mild nature.

A haka may be performed in a loud and energetic manner and yet not be marked by fierceness. Those performed to page 104
A Haka or posture dance. Dominion Museum collection

A Haka or posture dance.
Dominion Museum collection

page 105 such songs as kaioraora and ngeri are, however, marked by truculent vigour and fierceness, as prompted by hatred, revengeful feeling and scorn.

The Maori folk have a habit of composing songs and haka on many different occasions, many of them exceedingly trivial from our point of view. Where we would lay an action, or write to the papers, the Maori would compose a song to relieve his feelings. Thus when collecting native songs one encounters some curious causes that led to their composition. In a MS. book of such songs before me I note that certain haka have been composed for the following reasons, each one being rendered as an accompaniment to a posture dance:— Reception of native visitors. Reception of Government officials. An insulting remark made by a tribesman. Ill-treatment of a woman married to a member of another tribe. A faithless wife. A trivial oversight in apportioning food supplies. Ridiculing a bush native who tried to eat a cake of scented soap. And so on; the list might be greatly lengthened.

Some haka were performed only by females, as the poi, and also others performed at peace-making functions, before visitors, etc. Many are marked by a curious, rapid vibration of the hands, termed kakapa, tikapa and whakapakapa. Other motions are stamping, facial distortion, rhythmical out-thrusts and movements of the arms, as also swaying of the body. The haka matohi was perhaps the most peculiar of those forms that have fallen into desuetude. It was performed by men who stooped and elevated their posteriors in an absurd manner.

In these times the haka often show European influence, not only in the wording of the songs, but also in the actions. Thus one sees natives imitating in these exercises such actions as rowing, chopping, and the actions of a carpenter when sawing, planing, using an auger, gimlet, hammer, etc. The haka of the centuries is becoming Europeanised.

An east coast native gave the following list of names of these posture dances— page 106
  • 1. Haka taparahi
  • 2. Haka pikari
  • 3. Haka aroakapa
  • 4. Haka porowha
  • 5. Haka horuhoru
  • 6. Haka waiata
  • 7. Haka poi
  • 8. Haka tutohu
  • 9. Haka pirori

In No. 1 of these exercises the performers are arranged in the form of a square, all ranks facing in the same direction. No. 2 is marked by certain leg movements not met with in other forms. In No. 3 the players usually stand in two ranks. In No. 4 they form in a square facing four ways. In No. 5 all kneel down. No. 6 is accompanied by a song of what may perhaps be termed a mild nature, and movements are not so quick and energetic as in most others. No. 8 was performed as a divinatory exercise by persons grouped in the form of a wedge, but in open order, and not in arranged ranks. The object was to divine the fate of some expedition about to set forth. This ceremonial dance might also be termed a turanga a tohu (tohu=tutohu=a sign or indication). If performed with weapons it was called a peruperu. These terms, however, seem to carry a somewhat different meaning in other districts.

The pirori, No. 9, was an extraordinary exhibition accompanied by an incisive, virulent song, performed in order to avenge some insult received. The performers were quite naked, a rare occurrence, and performed every act they could think of to belittle, insult and revile the offending persons. This included turning their backs to them with belittling gestures. Supposing a member of a village community had been slain by magic arts, and the magician and his folk had the effrontery to attend the mourning ceremonies, then the haka pirori would be performed before them, that is to say if they were not attacked and slain. It is now some twenty years since the writer last saw one of these reviling exhibitions, and on that occasion the women who joined in it were clothed, and the men wore a breech clout. A secondary object of the performance was to keep alive the feeling of resentment, the memory of the wrong. The action is spoken of as an act of manatunga.

page 107

The haka horuhoru was performed by both sexes, all kneeling, and the word horuhoru describes the deep-throated grunting and rasping sounds emitted by the performers.

The Maori had no form of what we understand as dancing, hence we describe his performances as posture dancing. In its more vigorous forms it might be described as a strenuous exercise, so energetic and violent are the motions of arms, legs and body. On the other hand some of those performed by well-trained young women were marked by grace of action and well-rendered songs. Children had their simple forms of this diversion, and were much given to practising them.

To ascertain the origin of posture dancing, as explained in native myth, we must await the coming of Hine-raumati, the Summer Maid. When that fair maid arrives you will see, on calm, warm days, a curious quivering appearance in the air. Know then that you are gazing at the Haka of Tane-rore, he who was born of the Summer Maid, and claims Ra, the sun, as his male parent. The phenomenon is also known as the Dancing of the Summer Maid, and it is personified in Parearohi, who appears in the fifth month, and who mated with Rehua, who represents the heat of summer.

The peculiar form of posture dance performed during mourning ceremonies for the dead is termed a maimai. In this exercise there is much of what is termed aroarowhaki, swaying of the arms and body, performed by women, the men indulging in more vehement movements called pikari. Many of the old forms, such as haka koiri and ceremonial dances, have been abandoned.

The rendering of the songs, if this term be not a misnomer, differed in these performances. In some cases the composition is rendered by the whole of the performers; in others a fugleman delivers a line, or several lines, when the company joins in and carries it through. Again, the fugleman may deliver a line, when the company renders a refrain, this being repeated to the end. The company performs the so-called dance as they sing.

In some cases the fugleman commences with the cry: “A-a-! He ringa pakia!” whereupon all players commence striking their open hands on their thighs. Another line from page 108
A Haka or posture dance, modern style, Maori kilt arranged over European garments. Dominion Museum collection

A Haka or posture dance, modern style, Maori kilt arranged over European garments.
Dominion Museum collection

page 109 the fugleman precedes the main part of the performance. When the legs are called into action, the leader cries: “A-a-a! He waewae takahia!” to be followed by the rhythmical tramping of many bare feet, as the right feet of the players strike the earth as one.
The following is a specimen of these songs pertaining to posture dances:—

A-a-a! He ringa pakia!
I ki mai nga iwi o te motu nei ma te rohe potae au ka mate.

Chorus by company:



I ki mai nga iwi o te motu nei ma te rohe potae au ka mate.


Kaore! Kaore!
Ma Harehare he aha!
Ma Hamiora he aha!
Ma Te Whenua e whakawhaiti
Au! Au! Aue!”

As observed by the writer, this was a well-practised and effective exercise, the refrain having a telling swing.
The song of a haka performed by a party of Tuhoe when they attended a meeting of the Land Commission to claim the Whaiti Block, runs as follows:

“Te tangi mai a te ika nei a te poraka
A ku-ke-ke e!”
Ku-keke-keke a Tuhoe ki Te Whaiti
A ku-ke-ke e!

This singular effusion compares the Tuhoe folk to a swarm of frogs invading Te Whaiti. The second and fourth lines are supposed to represent the croaking of frogs, an introduced creature that had lately reached the district, and which by the natives was termed a fish (ika). Another stanza of this delectable refrain winds up with the words:

“Hihi ana mai te pene a te Komihana
A, hihi ana mai. Aue!”

(The pen of the Commissioner goes hihi. Ah! It goes hihi.) This hihi is an example of onomatopœia; it represents the sound of a pen when used by a quick writer.
The following haka chorus is one that is still frequently heard. It is said to mark a passage in the life of the famed fighter Te Rauparaha, when his life was saved by a hirsute page 110 chief of the interior. It runs: “It is death; it is death: It is life; it is life. This is the hairy person who caused the sun to shine,” etc.

“Ka mate! Ka mate!
Ka ora! Ka ora!
Tenei te tangata puhuruhuru
Nana i tiki mai i whakawhiti te ra
Upane! Upane!
Upane, kaupane, whiti te ra.”

In all cases an expert person was selected as a kai tataki, or fugleman. It may be observed that haka performed in a sitting position are of a milder nature as a rule.

The haka poi is the only diversion of the Maori in which a ball is used, and this ball is not handled directly, but has a cord attached to it by means of which it is twirled. Women only form the players in this case, and many forms of the exercise as now seen are of modern date. The cord attached to the ball is usually short, but in former times a much longer one was used. The word poi significes a ball. We have no knowledge of this pastime being known in Polynesia, but a similar game is played in New Guinea.

The so-called ball now used is merely a leaf of bulrush folded up, and is by no means of a spherical form, which the old-time poi was. The latter was made of a close texture fabric woven from dressed Phormium fibre, and good specimens were adorned with taniko work. The designs were geometric ones formed in the process of weaving by employing dyed fibre of various colours. This cover was stuffed with the pappus of the bulrush, a very light material. The balls were further adorned by securing thereto long, white dog's hair, or feathers.

This ball game was played in both sitting and standing positions, the string being held in one hand and struck with the other, but there are many different ways of manipulating it, and it is constantly being twirled. A fine ball adorned with hair as described was called a poi awe; common unadorned ones of bulrush are poi kokau. The old-time exercises with the long string ball were very effective, much more picturesque than the modern method. Many songs termed page 111 rangi poi, pertaining to this pastime, are yet remembered. Girls and young women were much given to this form of diversion, and contests were sometimes held between different villages.

An old poi awe in the Dominion Museum is four inches in diameter. It shows six diamond-shaped designs in red, black and white, and is also adorned with long white dog's hair (awe). The manipulation of the ball is accompanied by swaying movements of the body, and the lilt of the time song.

The Maori was given to expressing his feelings in song and so-called dancing. To some extent he practised mimetic dancing; in some of his modern posture dances we note something of pantomimic drama. The return of some of the heavenly bodies was greeted with a haka, as also were such incidents as the landing of a good haul of fish. Posture dancing, unaccompanied by vocal sound, did not appeal to the Maori; he demanded a combination of rhythmic action and rhythmic sound. When occasion arises the Maori will, in a very short space of time, compose a song, formulate a series of movements to accompany it, and so produce a haka.

The game of torere is one concerning which the writer holds some doubts. Natives have stated that it was known in pre-European times, but this is by no means assured. It was played on the east coast of the North Island prior, apparently, to the introduction of our game of draughts. I cannot learn, however, that it was known in other districts, and this casts doubt on it as an old native game; if old, it should be known elsewhere. It is a game resembling draughts, but is much more simple and the board used bears no resemblance to a draughtboard. It is marked with the design of an eightrayed star. It seems improbable that it was derived from draughts, and the latter game was accepted with great enthusiasm by the Maori when introduced early in last century.

It is well known that a form of draughts was known to the Hawaiians when the early missionaries reached their group; it was called konane by the natives, and also mu. This Hawaiian game is remarkable for the great number of pieces (men) used, and descriptions of it lead one to suppose that it was derived from the Spanish form of the game, introduced page 112 doubtless by early Spanish voyagers. Those sea rovers visited the group as early as the sixteenth century. Now it seems possible that the east coast game of torere may resemble some game of other lands, and may have been introduced by one of the early whaling or trading vessels, and so we find a mere local knowledge of it.

The game under discussion is often referred to as mu torere, perhaps to distinguish it from our form of draughts, which natives call mu. This is not a Maori word, but merely the native pronounciation of our word “move,” which draughts players so frequently use. The Hawaiian name of mu is said to have had a different origin, which may or may not be correct. The Maori occasionally calls it kaimu, kai being a term applied to several pastimes, etc. To conclude this phase of the subject the writer knows no clear proof that there was a truly Polynesian form of draughts.

An eight-pointed star represents the board used in the game of torere. The central space is termed the putahi, the eight arms are called kawai or tentacles, the design being compared to an octopus. This design is marked on a piece of plank, on smooth earth or sand. Two players engage in the game, each of whom has four perepere, or “men,” consisting of small stones. One player places his men on points 1, 2, 3 and 4, the other takes the four remaining points. The men are placed on the extremities of the arms. A man can be moved to an unoccupied point or to the putahi, if unoccupied. No “jumping” over an occupied point is allowed. There is no taking or crowning of men; it is simply a question of blocking an opponent. The writer is not a draughts player, but apparently no game of torere could continue long. It appears to be but a simple form of draughts.

A sample game dictated by a native was as follows:—To A was assigned the points 1, 2, 3, and 4, and to B the other four. B commences. He cannot move 6 or 7 because a stalemate would result; they are both tapu at the opening of the game. He can move 5 or 8 to the putahi, which is the only vacancy. He so moves 5. Then A moves 4 to 5. B moves the putahi man to 4. A moves 3 to the putahi. B moves 4 to 3. A moves the putahi man to 4. B moves 3 to putahi. page 113 A moves 2 to 3. B moves the putahi man to 2. A moves 4 to the putahi. Now B finds himself piro, or “out,” and A wins the game, for B is blocked and cannot move, A having his men on 1, 3, 5 and the putahi, and B his on 2, 6, 7 and 8.

It is not probable that this game was derived from our introduced game of draughts when the latter was so keenly appreciated. One can see no reason for altering the design of the board, and discarding the taking and crowning of men. Query: Can it have been introduced by early voyagers, and does any game of other lands resemble the torere of the Maori?

The term kai mentioned above seems to have been applied to many pastimes and contests in former times as a kind of generic term. It included all kinds of puzzles, riddles and page 114 guessing competitions. One of these is known as punipuni, which is played by two persons seated opposite to and facing each other. Each holds up a hand with fingers outstretched. One holds up his hand steady in that position, while the other, with closed eyes, thrusts his hand forward and attempts to so move it as to pass the fingers thereof between those of his opponent's hand. As he does so the latter repeats a formula that is presumably a charm designed to foil the attempt. Most of the words seem to have no bearing on the subject, but a line that reads “Awhi te punipuni, awhi te paroparo,” appears to express a desire that the questing hand find the fingers closed together so that interlocking cannot result. A player has a certain number of these attempts, and then holds his hand for the other to try his luck, taking up also the repetition of the charm. One authority states that the attempts can be made only while the charm is being repeated; at its conclusion they must be discontinued. This simple game was sometimes utilised as a divinatory exercise.

Tutukai is a guessing game. A number of persons seated in a circle keep passing a small pebble from one to another. During these movements a rhythmical jingle of words is repeated by the players. As this ceases a person who remained aloof from the circle has to guess where the stone is, as to which of the players has it. The stone is not exposed to view while being passed from one player to another, and many feints, pretences of passing, are made. When the guesser has made a successful guess another person takes his place. The winner seems to be the one who succeeds in the shortest space of time, though this has not been made quite clear.

Riddles, termed kai, panga and maka, were appreciated by the young folk. The following is a sample one: “What is the thing that is full of holes, is joined together, is elevated before and behind, has head, eyes and protruding tongue?” Answer: “A canoe.” The holes are those pierced for lashing the topstrake, the elevated ends the prow and stern pieces, the head, eyes and tongue are those of the grotesque carved figure at the prow.

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Playing upon words was another form of amusement among young folk. They had also a mode of communication by means of signs made with the fingers, each sign representing a word. This comes under the heading of rotarota, a word that includes all modes of signalling. Another baffling usage was the insertion of foreign syllables; thus the words maku tena might be rendered as ma-te-ku-te te-te-na-te, and so on, a puzzling discourse if repeated rapidly. This reminds one of our boyish “erewhay arway uya oinga.”

Story telling was, of course, much favoured, as it ever must be among an unlettered folk. Young children had their simple recitals, handed down the centuries. Youths and maidens had their folk tales, myths and traditions. Their elders were always ready to correct any errors. It is interesting to note how old folk enter into youthful pastimes and other pleasures. I have seen old, grey-headed men rise and join the ranks of posture dancing persons. Many of the simple stories were instructive in some way, and contained some sort of lesson. As a story teller the Maori cannot be excelled; it is a keen pleasure to listen to him. Samples of their tales have already been given.

It is not possible to so separate the arts of the Whare tapere as to assign certain games to children and others to adults, for a great number were practised by both. Thus in the following list kite flying was indulged in by men advanced in years, while stilt walking and a few others were patronised by young men and women. Still they were also the diversions of children.

Kites seem to have been known far and wide across the Pacific, even to the shores of Asia in the far west. In this vast area the flying of kites, as practised in former times, and to some extent even now, bears three aspects. They were flown as a recreation, in connection with an everyday economic pursuit, and ceremonially. We shall deal with the first and third phases as pertaining to Maori ethnography. As to the second, the reader must turn to works on Melanesia and New Guinea for an account of the use of kites in sea fishing.

The names applied to flying kites by the Maori are manu, kāhu and pakau, meaning “bird,” “hawk,” and “wing” in page 116 vernacular speech. They are often termed manu tukutuku, sometimes manu pakau. The attached cord is the aho tukutuku, from tuku=to pay out, as a rope. The ordinary form of kite was so constructed as to resemble a bird in form.

Kite flying was a favoured pastime among children, but it was also practised by adults, who occasionally held contests in which kites of superior make were used. Simpler, quickly-made ones were fashioned from bulrushes, etc., for the use of children. In the case of superior specimens kites were sometimes assigned special names. Charms were repeated in order to cause the kites to rise well. The ordinary birdlike form resembled the Chinese kite. From native tradition we learn that quite elderly men indulged in the pursuit of kite flying. The expression whakaangi manu means “kite flying,” and whakahoro=to pay out, is also employed in this connection.

The form of kite termed taratahi seems to have been of triangular form. Of three kites of this form obtained by the writer many years ago, one is now in the Dominion Museum, one in the Auckland Museum, and the third was sent to Prof. E. B. Tylor. They were made by securing leaves of the bulrush, a species of Typha, to a frame work of light rods.

The manu aute was a superior form. In this case the kite was usually made in the form of a bird with outstretched wings, and the light frame was covered with bark cloth, the prepared bark of the aute or “cloth plant” of early voyagers. Manu paitiiti is a name applied to inferior forms used by children. The manu patiki was made in the form of the fish called patiki, the flounder. The manu totoriwai was of birdlike form, and named after the native robin. The manu whara was a large form, and was sometimes flown for purposes of divination, flown so as to hover over the fortified village of an enemy. The manu kākā is said to have resembled the brown parrot (kākā), hence its name. The frame was constructed of fine twigs of manuka, and was covered with a sedge called toetoe-whatu-manu (so called because often used for this purpose). It was then again covered with the bright red feathers of the parrot, and it was much admired when soaring aloft.

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Left. Childs' kite. Material—leaves of Mariscus, stems of Juncus inserted as balancers. Right. The Taratahi form of kite. Material—leaves of bulrush (Raupo) and culms of Arundo conspicua (toetoe).

Left. Childs' kite. Material—leaves of Mariscus, stems of Juncus inserted as balancers. Right. The Taratahi form of kite. Material—leaves of bulrush (Raupo) and culms of Arundo conspicua (toetoe).

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When flying superior kites we are told that the manipulator was ever careful to slack the line out through his right hand; to act otherwise would be unlucky.

A peculiar feature of the kites so fashioned as to resemble a bird in form was that the head, at least in many cases, by no means resembled that of a bird, but was made in the form of a man's head, having the features marked on both sides. The wings were long and the legs short. Some were so constructed that the wings flapped when the kite was flown. Long dog's hair was sometimes affixed to the head, and feather decorations to the body and wings. The cord was secured in the middle of the kite. Large specimens, having a wing spread of about fifteen feet, are said to have been sometimes made, and two men were employed in the flying of such large ones. The leaves of Mariscus ustulatus, a sedge, and of Typha augustifolia, were the covering materials commonly employed.

The very large kites were held by two men, one at each wing (paihau or pakau) when about to be flown, and the cord used was a strong tamatoru or three-strand one. It was not a plaited cord, but was formed by a double rolling process called miro. The rolling was performed by the hand on the bare leg; two rolled strands of Phormium fibre were rolled together to form a tamarua, or two-strand cord. A third rolled strand was then laid between the two, worked in as the tamarua was opened out to receive it. Such a cord is said to be stronger than a plaited (whiri) one. Superior fishing lines were made in a similar manner.

Bunches of cockle shells (tuangi) or mussel shells (kakahi) were sometimes attached to kites, and these produced a rattling sound when shaken by the movements of the kite. An east coast native assures us that the manu aute was sometimes flown as a divinatory act; if it mounted steadily the fact was accepted as a good omen; if unsteadily, with side swooping, then trouble lay before. A karere or messenger was sometimes sent up the cord of a kite. It consisted of a light wooden disc with a hole in its centre through which to pass the cord. It was adorned with feathers, and the wind, acting on these, carried it up the cord.

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When the tohunga of an armed force flew a kite over the fortified village it was proposed to attack, he released the cord so that it would trail across the village as the released kite escaped. Now that cord was more dangerous than a “live” wire, for it possessed magic powers. Should one of the enemy chance to grasp the cord then the aforesaid magic got to work. The result would be that the villagers would become disheartened and nervous, hence an attack on the place would be successful.

A triangular kite made by the Tuhoe folk shows the frame composed of culms of Arundo conspicua, three of which are arranged as ribs with the plumes (panicles) downward. This form was flown with the apex uppermost. An extra culm is attached to the central rib, with its plume uppermost. A small wooden rod lashed across the ribs serves to brace the frame. Across this frame the leaves of the bulrush are neatly laced to the ribs. Small bunches of feathers are attached to the apex and to the ends of a bracing rod at the base. The cord was attached to the middle rib of this form. This kite had no long tail, and very few native kites did possess such an appendage, as far as can be learned.

The manu patiki, or “flatfish kite,” was made in two forms, one of which was lozenge shaped and the other oval. These had tails (waero) of some length, consisting of feathers tied in bunches to a light cord. Light twigs formed the framework, and projecting plumes of Arundo at the top helped to steady the kite. Bunches of feathers were also attached at the sides. The outer part of the frame of the oval form was a slender rod bent to the desired shape and braced with light crosspieces. The horewai was a small wingless kite made for children. Occasionally the covering material of a kite was dyed black or red, or both colours might be used.

A well-known story of the Turanga district tells of the flying of a kite in order to discover the perpetrators of a murder that had been committed. That kite hovered over a fortified village name Te Upoko o Taraia, at Lake Repongaere, hence a force was despatched to attack the place. Life was assuredly uncertain in Maoriland in the palmy days of yore.

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In one form of kite the human-like head was a hollow structure, and shells were placed in it to produce a rattling sound.

A curious kite story was related to the writer by Te Awanui of Omarumutu. In days of old a man became jealous of his wife, and so marooned her on an island, possibly one of the isles in the Bay of Plenty. After a tedious sojourn on the isle she conceived the idea of sending a token to her friends per medium of a kite. Having fashioned the kite she awaited a day on which the wind should blow in the direction of the home of her own folk. That day having arrived, she attached to the kite a certain pendant worn by her, allowed the kite to rise to a considerable height, and then released the cord. The kite was seen by her relatives, and a long search ended in the finding of the hapless maroon. The end of the episode is said to have been a pleasant one for her, but not quite so pleasing to the husband.

A good specimen of the bird form of kite is preserved in the Auckland Museum. Its width across the wings is about twelve feet; these wings are about 14 inches in width in the middle of the kite, and about five inches at their extremities. The framework is of rods and the covering of bulrush leaves. Each diminutive leg terminates in four claws. The features of the human-like head are prominent, and some feathers are attached to the head.

A small, simple form of kite, such as were made for children, comes from the Ngapuhi district. It is of a cruciform shape, a form having two short rectangular wings. The frame is covered with dried leaves of Mariscus ustulatus. This little specimen is but fourteen inches high and eleven inches wide. A number of pieces of a fine rush are inserted in the two wings and project outwards; possibly these are necessary for balancing purposes.

A triangular form of kite made by the Matatua folk in former times had two rectangular projections on either side of it, but no specimen is met with in any museum.

Kites of the Cook Group were oval, lozenge shaped, and another form with wing extensions. Two forms had bunches page 121 of yellow leaves attached to them to correspond with the stars in the Pleiades and Orion's Belt.

Stilts are known as pouturu, poutoti, poukoki, and tokorangi. Poles of mako, a light wood, were often used as stilts. The foot rest might be the fork of a branch or a separate piece lashed on to the shaft. This footrest is called the teka. Stilt races were indulged in, as also wrestling on stilts and the crossing of streams or rivers, where a fall afforded the most intense delight to onlookers. Stilts were also known in Polynesia, and the footrests of stilts of the Marquesas Group were most elaborately carved.

A small piece of plank was used by native children as a toboggan. It was termed a reti, panukunuku, toreherehe and horua. The last word is evidently the holua of the Hawaiian Isles, a term also applied to a toboggan. The term papa reti was applied by the Maori to the sliding ground, a steep hill face. The plank used was about thirty inches in length, and from six to ten inches in width. One made by an old man of Tuhoe shows two small projections on its upper surface, behind which the feet of the rider were placed. He squatted down with one foot immediately behind the other. In some cases the fore end of a reti was embellished with carved designs. A specimen is in the Auckland Museum. Occasionally one was made long enough to accommodate two children, one behind the other. Some had a peg at the fore end that was gripped by the rider.

The slide ways were carefully formed so as to present a fair surface, and certain songs or recitals were uttered by riders as they descended the runway. Some sleds had a piece of cord attached to serve as a hand grip. Children not possessed of a plank reti sometimes used the head of a “cabbage tree,” or a fan of Phormium leaves as a substitute. The former is by no means a bad one, the long thickly-set leaves of Cordyline forming an excellent seat. The child held the butt between his legs, which he then raised from the ground and so slid merrily away.

The Hawaiian holua was a proper sled with two runners of considerable length, resembling ski. The riders lay at full length.

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The tarere, or kautarere (bush swing) was a mere pastime, and the swing was provided by Nature, for it was the stem of a climbing plant, the upper part of which had a firm grip on the limbs or upper trunk of a forest tree. This vine would be cut at the base of the tree and would serve as a single swing rope. As a rule the swinger merely clung to the vine with his hands, but occasionally a rude form of seat was attached to it. This consisted of two short rods lashed on to the vine in a horizontal position, and in the form of a cross. This was steadied by sustaining guy cords fastened to the vine higher up. The term “seat” is a misnomer, however, for the swinger stood on the crosspieces and held on to the pendant vine.

A favoured aspect for a tarere was where a tree, growing on a sideling, leaned somewhat down hill, and had the necessary vine attachment. Across the space of many years can the writer recall experiences on those bush swings. Native children had simple chaunts which they sang in very slow time as they swung. Thus when four boys were riding the cross attachment, one would drawl out: “No wai tenei tarere,” (Whose is this swing?). Whereupon his three companions replied with: “No te ihu pari roa.” Then the one sang: “I u ki whea?” (Landed at what place?), followed by the three: “I u ki Tainui” (Landed at Tainui). Himorimori is a Tuhoe name for this form of swing.

See-saw, called tiemi, was another pastime of our native children, and a form of swing provided by a limber branch of a prostrate tree, and termed pioi, sometimes afforded small folk much pleasure.

Piu, or skipping by a single person manipulating the rope himself seems to have been rarely practised in Maoriland. Two would manipulate the rope while one or more skipped. I have seen seven or eight skipping at once, a long rope being used. Some assert that skipping singly, as our children do, was unknown in pre-European times. Simple forms of song were sung by skippers.

Both whip tops and humming tops were known to the Maori youth, but he knew nought of the peg top. An area of ground of fair surface where this pastime or game was prac- page 123 tised is a marae potaka. The latter word is a generic term for tops. The following is a list of names by which these different tops were known, for such toys are not now used in native villages.
  • Potaka ta Whip top
  • Kaihotaka Whip top
  • Kaihora Whip top
  • Kaitaka Whip top
  • Poro Whip top Has a flat top to it
  • Potaka wherorua Whip top Double ended
  • Potaka tikitiki Whip top Double ended
  • Potaka kotorerua Whip top Double ended
  • Potaka takiri Humming top
  • Potaka kukume Humming top
  • Potaka huhu Humming top
  • Potaka hue Humming top Made from a gourd
The whip (ta and kare) was made by securing strips of green Phormium leaf to a handle, and this whip was employed to set the top spinning, being wound round it and then manipulated as our boys set up a whip top.

Top spinning was often, perhaps usually, a contest so far as whip tops were concerned. Two modes of playing have been explained. One of these consisted of whipping the tops over hurdles, or a series of artificial mounds called karangi. In the other form of the game two lines were marked on the ground and a player was stationed at each line. Each then strove to lash his top across the opposite line over a single or narrow track, so that they were constantly interfering with each other. He who succeeded in keeping his top spinning, and lashed it across the opposite line, won the contest.

Tops were sometimes adorned by having small pieces of brightly coloured Haliotis shell countersunk in them. There are several old stone tops in our museums; they must have been somewhat cumbrous to manipulate.

The ordinary form of potaka takiri resembled the whip top in form, but had a projecting piece on the top of it round which the string was wound. The papa takiri, or handle, was not pierced to slip over this projection, but was simply held against it. The spinner kept handle and top in position with his left hand and pulled the cord with his right hand. Among the Ngati-Porou folk the handle was an improved page 124 page 125 form, being like a diminutive shepherd's crook. It may or may not have been a pre-European usage.

Tops were sometimes given special names, those of ancestors, for example; some were carved in various designs, or adorned with pieces of shell. Tops were usually made from pieces of matai or mapara wood. The humming tops had in some cases longitudinal, i.e., perpendicular grooves and sharply defined ridges (io) carved on them. Certain little ditties were chaunted as the tops were spinning. At the conclusion of what we may term for convenience a verse, a single word gave the signal for the tops to be again set spinning.

The humming tops fashioned from gourds were as a rule small size gourds, down through the middle of which a small rod was thrust and so secured as to project at both ends. One of these protruding ends served as a spinning point, and round the other, the upper one, the spinning cord was wound. One or two holes were pierced in the sides of the gourd to produce a humming sound. Occasionally gourds of large size were used, and it required two persons to spin one of these.

We here pause in order to discuss the question of how kings are made. Some time prior to the outbreak of the fighting with Europeans in the Waikato district, a large meeting of native tribes took place in that region in order to elect a Maori “king.” The question to be settled was—which tribe should have the honour of electing one of their tribesmen as a king for the island. Here some genius proposed that the representatives of each tribe should make a humming top, and that all these tops should be spun in a contest. The tribe whose top made the loudest noise was to elect a king for the island. Koia ra! The proposal was received with acclamation. All the visiting tribes set about fashioning tops from the wood of the matai (a Podocarpus), a wood much used for such purposes. But the wily Waikato made a large gourd top, which they named Te Ketirera, and this top easily won the contest that ensued. Thus it was that Waikato taniwha rau won the right to elect a Maori king, and so Po-tatau was called to an uneasy throne. On such small issues does the fate of a king sometimes depend. The writer declines to vouch for the truth of this stirring tale, but simply retells it as it was related by page 126 one of the fighters of the sixties. A special song was composed to be sung when spinning this king-making top, the first lines of which run as follows:—

“E tangi ra, e Te Ketirera… e
Kia iti to tangi, kei rangona inawa
Hai! Tukua!”

These words scarcely seem applicable for they read: Resound, O Ketirera; sound gently, lest ye be heard. At the word “Tukua!” the top was spun.

The wailing sound made by humming tops has by the Maori always been compared to the sound of wailing for the dead. Here must be explained one of the singular customs of a singular people. For top spinning entered into mourning ceremonial in Maoriland. During such ceremonies a number of humming tops were repeatedly spun simultaneously with the chaunting of a specially-composed song. Songs sung to the spinning of tops are termed whakaoriori potaka. This curious ceremony was sometimes performed when a clan had been defeated in fighting. The hum of the tops was said to represent the wailing of widows and other relatives of the slain. Also, as the Maori puts it, these wailing tops helped to avenge the death of those killed. This extraordinary act may be coupled with that pertaining to the moari swing already described, and the Thibetan praying wheel. This old custom was revived by natives in the “sixties” of last century, as after the Orakau and Maketu engagements. In the performing of this ceremony the top spinners stood in a rank on the village plaza and spun their tops at the conclusion of each couplet of the song, each of which ended with the words “Hai! Tukua!” At the repetition of the last word all the tops were spun. When run down they were collected, rewound as the next couplet was being sung, and so were ready for the next round. The inclusion of all these songs would not enhance the interest of the description.

A fugitive note refers to ceremonial top spinning in some church in Paris, but particulars and date are unknown. It was met with in Hone's (?) Every Day Book, Vol. I.

Hoops (pirori) were used by the Maori as toys, but apparently were never trundled with a stick in the English manner. page 127 One mode of using hoops was as follows:—A line was marked on the ground and two parties of players took their places one on either side of the line and some distance from it. The hoop was thrown so as to strike the earth and rebound across the line. The players on the other side are said to have struck the hoop with sticks so as to drive it back. If the hoop fell flat then the side in whose area it so fell was out. This explanation is not satisfactory, but the game has long been abandoned. Another native stated that two players only took up the positions described. The hoop was thrown overhand and, should it fail to reach the opposing player, then the thrower lost. This game, or the hoop, was also known as porotiti, a name that was also applied to a childish pastime of a circle of children joining hands and singing childish songs as the circle revolved. Again the whizzer (wairori, korohuhu, taka wairori) was sometimes termed porotiti, also a small, simple teetotum. The word means “revolving.”

So far as can be ascertained the hoop was thrown so as to roll across the intervening space between the players, and driven or beaten back by the other side. The hoop used seems to have been a small one; they were formed of pieces of the stem of a climbing plant.

Taupunipuni was a form of “hide and seek.”

I am not quite satisfied about the diversion called wi; it may be of European origin. All players but one fell in in two open ranks. The odd one, termed the kiore (rat) tags a player, who pursues him. The kiore dodges swiftly in and out among the quiescent ranks, and the tagged one must pursue him on the same route. If he fails to do so he is “out.” If the kiore is tagged he is “out.” Another form resembles our prisoner's base. The base is a circle called wi. The base-keeper's task is to prevent others entering the circle; if one is tagged ere he has crossed the line he assists the base-keeper in defending the circle. The counting out process was adopted in order to obtain the first base-keeper.

A childish pastime was the breath-holding competition, known as tatau manawa. Quaint jingles were repeated by children in a curious “jerky” manner, in order to see which could do so in one breath. The following is a sample page 128 recital: “Ka tahi ti, ka rua ti, ka haramai, te pati tore, ka rauna, ka rauna, ka noho, te kiwikiwi, he po, he wai, takitaki, no pi, no pa, ka huia mai, kai ana, te whetu, kai ana, te marama, ko te tio, e rere, ra runga, ra te pekapeka, kotore, wiwi, wawa, heke, heke, te manu, ki o, tau tihe.” This trial is not a difficult one for an adult; the writer cannot speak of the capacity of a child's lungs, so many years have passed since he trod the care free path of childhood. The above peculiar and apparently meaningless recital was sometimes repeated by a person when performing a simple ceremony to dispel a frost, as described elsewhere. In that case it was termed “star telling,” and the reciter kept moving his index finger as though counting the stars.

Poro-teteke is an absurd pastime of boys, and consisted of standing on the head and waving the legs about. A row of boys would sometimes perform this act together, and each one had to recite a jingle-like effusion while in that position. Walking on the hands I have heard described as poteteke.

Topa is also known as koke and niu. A child's pastime. A broad leaf of the wharangi is procured, into the petiole of which was thrust the lower end of a grass culm, such as that of the karetu (Hierochloe redolens). This latter served to balance the large leaf, which, by an adroit cast, was launched through the air. If well balanced and cast the leaf descended very gradually, and so would float through the air for a considerable distance. Simple charms were recited to cause a good flight. It sometimes occurred that grave men cast the topa as a divinatory act, in which case it would be termed niu, the old coconut name of Polynesia already explained.

Ripi, or paratiti (ducks and drakes) was the skimming of flat stones along the surface of water.

A curious usage, termed pa taka, obtained in former times. It was one of the many lessons employed in order to prevent children becoming selfish, to inculcate a generous spirit. On seeing a child enjoying some article of food an adult would interlock his fingers save the two little fingers, which projected upward. Stooping down he would hold his locked hands before the child, and say: “Will my fort fall to you?” The child was supposed to place a portion of its food on his page 129 hands, which he would eat, though possibly the child might cry over the loss of that portion. Do not by any means return it to the child, lest it become self-indulgent and fail to acquire the habit of hospitality. So says the Maori.

Many simple amusements were formerly practised by native children. They raced diminutive, fragile canoes fashioned from leaves of Phormium tenax, and provided with sails. They used Cordyline leaves as toy darts, terming them matakokiri and held contests in the plaiting of kopae, small, coarse plait, dishlike baskets used in lieu of dinner plates. Boys sometimes constructed miniature fortified places, with ramparts, fosses and stockades. Some of the minor games of yore the writer was unable to obtain any description of.

The karetao, or jumping jack, was a grotesque toy also known as keretao, karari, and toko raurape. Some old specimens are extant in collections. It is a wooden figure carved in human form, and about eighteen inches in height. The legs of the figure merge into a hand-grip. The whole is carved out of the solid save the arms, which are loosely attached by means of cords passed through holes bored in the shoulders of the figure. Some of these figures are adorned with carved designs, some have the face tattooed in manner orthodox. The manipulator holds the figure with one hand in a vertical position, and, with the other hand, pulls the two cords attached to the arms. By means of rapidly shaking the figure he causes the arms to shake or quiver so as to somewhat resemble the arm movements of a person performing a posture dance. By shaking the figure and giving the cord a quick, sharp tug, he causes the arms to assume different positions. While so working the figure certain special songs were sung, of which we have collected a number. There are two karetao in the Grey collection in the Auckland Museum. An old specimen was given to Lord Ranfurly in 1903 by the Tuhoe folk. In some cases at least these toys were assigned special names. The songs pertaining to them are called oriori karetao.

In the Tauranga district a number of stone bowls have been discovered, of the use of which the local natives are ignorant. Their average diameter is five and a quarter inches, and the average thickness nearly three inches; they page 130
The Karetao, a toy (jumping jack).

The Karetao, a toy (jumping jack).

page 131 are flat sided. Persons acquainted with our game of bowls are inclined to the belief that these stone objects were employed in such a game, owing to their peculiar form. The Hawaiians used stone bowls in their game of maika. At Atiu isle, of the Cook Group, wooden bowls are used in a game called pua, and all the old ones were marked by an incised pentalpha or pentagram. This was an ancient usage, and the bowls acquired some kind of mana or superiority from the symbol. Now how did this Old World symbol stray down into the South Pacific in prehistoric times? It was the symbol of Health in Greece, and in Asia seems to have represented different conditions according to whether it was apex or base uppermost.

A childish pastime that I have watched small folk enjoying in long gone years was called upoko-titi. Each player crooks his little finger over the next finger, and so on until all are bunched together; both hands being so bunched. One holds out his hand with forefinger pointed downward. Another holds his hand above it in like position, tip of forefinger lightly touching the back of hand No. 1. This is continued until both hands of the three, or four players are so placed one above the other. No. 1 then grasps the uppermost hand and repeats the upoko-titi jingle.

“Te upoko titi, te upoko tata
Ki te wai nui, ki te wai roa
Whakatangihia te pupu
Haere ki to kainga.”

As the repeats the last line, “go to your home,” he thrusts the uppermost hand away. The child whose hand has been so repelled now holds it so that the index finger touches his breast. This act is repeated until all the piled hands have been so disposed of, and each child stands with his or her hands against their respective breasts. No. 1 then asks: “Who will eat my nose?” and the children answer: “The demon will.” No. 1 then says: “Big feet, long feet, cover with fire,” whereupon all players make a motion with their hands as though casting something down. Other such questions are asked by No. 1, followed by the same words and motions. The last one is: “Who will eat my whole body?”

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Readers will fail to see anything of interest in the above pastime, doubtless, and no explanation of it can be given by the writer, who can see no point or meaning in it, and could never obtain such from child or adult. It is, however, a curious fact that a similar pastime obtains among children of the natives of Queensland, even to the hands with fingers twisted being placed one above the other, and lifted off one by one. Its final part is, however, a more rational one than that of the Maori mode. See Report of the Australian Association for 1902.

Inasmuch as tara koekoea is performed after the upokotiti, it is possible that it is the final act thereof. Each child closes the thumb and three fingers on the palm, leaving the forefinger projecting. All hands are then placed one over another, but with the forefingers pointing upward. Then all players sing: “Para goes, goes to spear pigeons, to spear parrots; the cuckoo sings.” At the conclusion of this ditty all players snatch their hands away and place them behind their backs, endeavouring, as they do so, to touch the hand of another player. Any child so tagged is out of the game.

Another childish diversion, hapi tawa, is played by several children. One places his open hands together, palm to palm, and holds them out in front of him. Another draws his two hands along the hands of No. 1, repeating: “Open, open the shallow oven for your grandmother, for Whare-rauroa, when she returns from collecting tawa berries, etc.” Then comes a dialogue between No. 1 and No. 2:
  • 1. “By whom were you sent hither?”
  • 2. “By Pitau.”
  • 1. “Pitau of what place?”
  • 2. “Pitau the explorer.”
  • 1. “Explorer of what place?”
  • 2. “Ocean explorer.”
  • 1. “What ocean?”
  • 2. “The great ocean,” etc.

No. 2 then asks: “What shall be done to him?” No. 1 replies: “Spare him” or “strike him.” If No. 1 says “spare him” he receives a light box on the ear. If he says “strike him” he is spared. No. 2 then takes the hands of No. 1 and page 133 separates the thumbs from the fingers, saying: “An oven of kumara.” He then pushes over the other fingers in pairs, saying: “An oven of taro, an oven of pigeons, an oven of person birds, an oven of parrots“ as he does so. No. 1 then holds his cupped hands out, while the other players dart their fingers into them as though snatching food from the oven. No. 1 endeavours, by closing his hands, to catch the darting fingers. A player so caught is out.

Kura-winiwini is a form of kai. Two rows of players sit facing each other, a string passing down the space between them. Each grasps the cord with both hands, palms downward. One player at the end of a row has the end of the string in his mouth. The string is completely concealed by the hands of the players. An outsider is appointed whose task it is to guess the exact position of the free end of the string. The task is no easy one when the players are skilful at manipulating the string. They make many false movements to confuse the guesser. The string may be gathered in the hands of one person, or into the mouth of the end man, but always all hands are kept in position touching each other. Special songs were composed to be sung by the players.

Dr. Shortland describes a pastime of little girls as follows: Several would seat themselves in a row, while another walked down the row asking the question: “What kind of a husband will you have?” One would reply: “A food-cultivating husband,” whereupon the questioner remarked: “You require a peaceful land and rich soil.” Another would reply: “A fisherman,” to which the reply would be: “You will need calm weather.” The last child always replied: “A rootdigging husband.” To this the answer was: “That is the best of all husbands. You will never go hungry, but always have food in store.”

Such were the arts of the Whare tapere, such the games, exercises and pastimes of the neolithic Maori. Cut off for centuries from his kin of the Many Isled Sea, isolated in remote isles at the ends of the earth, the conservative Maori lived out his life and conserved institutions, arts, usages and beliefs page 134 that had been evolved in far-distant lands beyond the rolling realm of Hine-moana, the Sea Maid of native myth.

When intrusive Europeans settled on these shores the Maori abandoned the arts of the Whare tapere; they are now but a memory. His own statement is that they were discouraged by early missionaries, but most of them were of so harmless a nature that it is difficult to understand why they should have been condemned. The flood of strange new products, usages and ideas introduced by Europeans probably had much effect in the way of causing the abandonment of old practices. Whatever the cause may have been we know that the doors of the Whare tapere of yore have closed for ever.

Grotesque figure as seen on Maori houses, both dwelling and store houses.

Grotesque figure as seen on Maori houses, both dwelling and store houses.