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Games and Pastimes of the Maori

Hoops. Pirori

Hoops. Pirori

The hoop was known to the Maori as a toy, but, so far as can be ascertained, was not so much favoured by children as the top and kite were. Apparently the hoop was never trundled as with us, that is, by the use of a stick. Tuta Nihoniho contributed the following note on the subject:—"In the game of pirori, two players stand some distance apart, and throw the hoop overhand so that it will roll towards the other player; it is not struck or trundled with a stick. Should the rolling hoop fail to reach the opponent, then the thrower loses. This game is sometimes called porotiti, a word meaning to roll, or revolve. This latter name was also applied to a childish amusement of joining hands so as to form a circle, whereupon that circle revolves, singing childish songs."

Thomson, in his Story of New Zealand, gives us a brief note:— "Pirori, or porotiti, is played with an oval piece of wood, or a hoop, which is thrown by one party and beaten back by another standing opposite. If the hoop is not completely driven back the game is won by the party throwing it, as the result proves the projector the stronger." It is doubtful if all hoops used were oval. Several made by natives for the writer were circular hoops made by bending and lashing pieces of aka (stems of climbing plants).

The late Mr. John White's Mss. contain the following notes:— When a hated enemy was slain it sometimes occurred that a portion of his body would be flayed, and the skin stretched over a hoop which was then used as a plaything by the people. When Te Karawa page 164of the Atiawa tribe of Taranaki, was slain by Ngati-Ruanui at the Putake pa, a mile or more from Te Ruaki pa, east of Hawera, they skinned his buttocks, which were adorned with the rape design of tattoo, and stretched the skin over a hoop of supplejack. This hoop was trundled back and forth across the village plaza amid the shouts and jeers of the people. The spirit of revenge was the cause of ferocious acts in Maoriland. The above incident occurred in 1826. Hoops were evidently not propelled with a stick but were trundled, or thrown by hand, so as to roll across the playing ground, the players standing on opposite sides of such ground.

The Maori hoop was smaller than those used by European children. In the Tuhoe district a number of young folks joined in a contest in which a hoop was the centre of activities. There were several players on each side, and the parties were arranged on opposite sides of a straight line marked on the ground. The hoop was thrown by one of the players so as to strike the ground and rebound there-from across the line. The players on that side of the line would endeavour to drive the hoop back across the line by means of striking it with sticks. So far as I could gather the hoop served as a sort of shuttlecock, both sides striking at it with sticks. Should the hoop fall flat on the ground, then the side on which it so falls is out.