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Games and Pastimes of the Maori

Patokotoko, or Panokonoko

Patokotoko, or Panokonoko

This is another string game, a much simpler one, known by the former name among the Tuhoe folk, and by the latter among Ngati-Porou of East Cape district. Two persons are each provided with a piece of string having a running noose formed at one end of it, this being made in the same way as that in which a Texan cattleman forms the lazo of a lariat, when no form of Honda or thimble is used. The noose string was the midrib of a leaf of Cordyline, used on account of its rigidity, a piece of ordinary string being of too flaccid a nature. The free end of the cord was wound round the forefinger of the right hand, while the small running noose at the other end was held open with the thumb and forefinger, but the forefinger was not doubled, as were the other fingers, it was held out straight and projecting, as an objective for the snare noose of one's opponent. Each player tried to catch the finger of his opponent in his noose. The players made rapid passes or darts at the opponents' extended forefinger, endeavouring to snare it without having their own caught. In the Tuhoe form of the game, each player had seated beside him a female companion, in this connection termed a ruahine, who acted as a kind of objective, apparently. For instance, when a player succeeded in catching his opponent's page 85finger, he would rapidly touch that opponent's hand with his own and then turn and touch, with the same hand, that of his ruahine. By this act he is supposed to transfer the ha (dexterity, or power) of his opponent to his own ruahine, who seems to act as a guardian or repository of his own dexterity or cleverness at the game. This usage and belief illustrates a singular phase of Maori mentality, and is apparently connected with the employment of a woman in certain forms of ritual of a highly tapu nature. It represents the introduction of the female element, believed to be remarkably efficacious in ceremonial matters. A very interesting and instructive paper might be written on the terms ruahine and tamawahine, and what they imply.