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Games and Pastimes of the Maori

Top Spinning

Top Spinning

Tops were certainly in use in Polynesia and New Zealand in pre-European times. In Banks' Journal of Cook's first voyage we read:—"Amongst other knicknacks, Dr. Solander bought a boy's top, which resembled those our boys play with in England, and which they made signs was to be whipped in the same manner." This occurred at Tolaga Bay, on the East Coast of the North Island.

The Maori used both whip tops and humming tops, but not the peg top. The following names for tops have been collected:—

  • Potaka=A spinning top. Generic term.
  • Potaka ta=Whip top.
  • Kaihotaka=Whip top.
  • Kaihora=Whip top.
  • Kaitaka=Whip top.
  • Poro=Whip top. Has a flat top to it.
  • Potaka wherorua=Double ended whip top.
  • Potaka tikitiki=Double ended whip top (Arawa).
  • Potaka kotore rua=Double ended whip top.
  • Potaka tokiri=Humming top.
  • Potaka kukume=Huinming top.
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  • Potaka huhu=Humming top.
  • Potaka hue=A gourd humming top.