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Games and Pastimes of the Maori

Hapi Tawa

Hapi Tawa

This is played by two or more children. One places his open hands together, palm to palm, holding them out in front of his body. Another draws his two hands along the backs of No. l's hands with a stroking motion, and continuing it as he repeats:—

"Hukea, hukea—(Uncover, uncover)
Te hapi papaku—(The shallow oven)
Ma to kuia—(For your grandmother)
Ma Whare-rauroa—(For Whare-rauroa)
Kia hoki mai—(When returning)
I te kohi tawa—(From tawa collecting)
Kinikini raupaka
Te hoia to taringa
He hapī kumara—(An oven of sweet potatoes)
He hapi taro—(An oven of taro)
He hapi kereru—(An oven of pigeons)
He hapi koko—(An oven of koko birds)
He hapi kaka."—(An oven of parrots)

No. 1then asks: "Na wai koe i tono mai?"—(By whom were you sent hither?)
No. 2replies: "Na Pitau"—(By Pitau)
No. 1asks: "Pitau whea?"—(Pitau of what place?)
No. 2replies: "Pitau toro."—(Pitau explorer)
No. 1asks: "Tow hea?"—(Explorer of what?)
No. 2replies: "Toro tai"—(Ocean explorer)
No. 1asks: "Tai whea?"—(What ocean?)
No. 2replies: "Tai matua"—(The great ocean)page 177
No. 1:"Matua wera."
No. 2:"I te ahi."
No. 1:"Pikoko."
No. 2asks: "Me aha koia?"—(What shall be done?)
No. 1replies: "Me whakaroa"—(Spare him) or "Me patu." —(Strike him).

If the first of these replies be given by No. 1, he receives a light box on the ear; if the second be given, he is not touched, a curious reversal of the decision.

No. 2 then takes hold of the hands of No. 1, which are still pressed together, and, forcing the two thumbs apart from the fingers, repeats: "He hapi kumara." He then pushes the two forefingers over against the thumbs, saying: "He hapi taro"; and so on with the other three pairs of fingers, and repeating the names of the other three hapi. No. 1 then holds his cupped hands out, and No. 2 (also any others participating in the game) darts an extended thumb and forefinger into the hollowed hands, as though plucking something out. No. 1 meanwhile endeavours to close his hands on the swiftly moving fingers. When one is caught the game seems to be ended.

The above descriptions were obtained in the Ruatahuna district. In the Waiapu district children indulged in the following apparently meaningless pastime:—Each child twisted his or her fingers as in the Upoko-titi, and then, with the end of the projecting forefinger, kept describing a circle on the back of his left hand, at the same time repeating the following abracadabra:—

"Taia, taia te whare o Poumatua, kiko, kiko whare, whare tapatu mai runga te rangi, e ti, e ta, kai ngaki to kiri pu kainga. Waiho enei ma aku tamariki, kia ahu rawa mai i te kohi tawa. He puku aruhe anake te kai ma te atua waewae roroa whakaatu ki runga te ahi pakoreha."

As the recital, or chanting, ceased, each child quickly dropped his hands. I could gather no meaning as pertaining to the performance.

Children of the same district, when playing on the sea beach, would amuse themselves by heaping up sand, forming it into a series of steps, and patting it with their hands as they recited the following:—Ka makere, ka makere te kete koura a Hine-tu moumou rangi; ka makere, ka makere." Meaning and object of such infantile practices are unknown, and probably never were known, they being childish pastimes. This latter performance is evidently the same as that described by Tuta, and termed tungoungou by him.

page 178

Mr. George Graham, of Auckland, describes another childish pastime indulged in formerly, the information comes from the Rotorua district. A number of children collected and chanted a simple formula of which the following is a part:—

Ki nga turipona—(To the knees)
Ki nga hope—(To the loins)
Ki nga uma—(To the breasts)
Ki nga keke—(To the armpits)
Ki nga kaki—(To the necks).

As each part was mentioned all players clapped their hands on the part of the body mentioned. It was not explained that any element of contest entered into this simple diversion.