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Games and Pastimes of the Maori

Ripi, or Paratiti. Ducks and Drakes, and Other Minor Amusements

Ripi, or Paratiti. Ducks and Drakes, and Other Minor Amusements

As with us, this was the throwing of flat stones so as to skip along the surface of water. Another form was the high throw, using stones or flat and rounded pieces of bark for throwing. This throwing was done near a tree to enable players to detect the highest throw.

Another childish amusement was that known as Tungoungou, in which each child made a little heap of sand or earth, and then, with outspread hands, pressed the sand into small parallel ridges and channels on an otherwise level surface at the top of the mound, repeating meanwhile the following lines:—

"Ka maringi, ka maringi te kete koura na Tungoungou
Ka maringi, ka maringi te kete koura na Tungoungou
Whitiwhiti te ra, poroporo te ra
I haramai koe i nga kumara tetere o Nuku-taurua
Whitiwhiti te ra, poroporo te ra."

My informant knew of no meaning pertaining to this performance It was obtained from Ngati-Porou.

A curious usage, styled pa taka, was formerly practised in order to teach children to be generous in the matter of food, and not to begrudge it to others. An adult would interlock his fingers, backs page 169of hands uppermost, so as to form a level surface, except the two little fingers which were stuck upwards with ends touching. He would stoop down and say to the child:— "E horo ranei taku pa i a koe?" (will my pa fall to you?) Whereupon the child was supposed to place a piece of its food on his hands, which the adult ate, although the child would probably cry at the loss of its food. Do not, by any means, return the food to the child, sayeth the Maori, lest it become covetous and stingy through such indulgence.

A number of simple pastimes were indulged in by Maori children. They had races with fragile toy canoes fashioned from a leaf of Phormium, or of the raupo bulrush, and provided with sails. They made a toy dart from a leaf of Cordyline, calling it a matakokiri, and held contests in the plaiting of kopa, small coarse plait basket dishes for cooked food.

Angas, when travelling in the interior, wrote:—"Near the path … I observed a miniature pa, constructed by the boys, who amuse themselves by building tiny fortifications, and emulate the courage and skill of their sires in the sport of besieging and defending them. The mounds were made by heaps of earth, and the fence work constructed of upright sticks, displaying the characteristic ingenuity of the Maori children." Herein the term mound is applied to earthen ramparts.

The Rev. R. Taylor gives Kerirukeriru as the name of a finger game similar to the moro of Italians. The name does not appear to be a probable one. He also gives rara-tuna, rore-kiore, pono-kawakawa and tureureu as names of games, but without any description. Stowell gives karihi-taka as a finger game.

The use of masticatories might perhaps be viewed as a pastime. On this subject Colenso wrote as follows:—"Their masticatories were few and scanty, yet most of what they had they prized. The resin of the tarata (Pittosporum eugenioides) they gathered and mixed into a ball with the gum of the sow thistle, which they chewed. A kind of bitumen which was sometimes found thrown up on their coasts, though rarely, and called by them kauri-tawhiti and mimiha, they also chewed; as they did the fresh resin of the kauri tree (Agathis australis). In using them they passed them freely from one to another without hesitation." In late times American chewing gum has been used to some extent, but the almost universal use of tobacco by both sexes has probably been a check on the habit.

Nicholas, in his account of a sojourn in New Zealand in 1814-15, has the following passage:—"The children of the natives displayed before us a specimen of their ingenuity as we rowed along the cove, in a curious imitation of our ship, the Active, made in wicker-work. page 170They had fitted up their little bark as nearly after the plan of the model as possible; she had a bowsprit and two masts, with ropes connected to them, while the builders, having now launched her into the water, were proving the success of their labours, and seemed quite happy at the result."