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Games and Pastimes of the Maori

The Tarere or Bush Swing

The Tarere or Bush Swing

This form of swinging was a mere pastime, and did not call for the skill displayed by a successful manipulator of the moari. The tarere or kautarere was a natural form of swing occasionally found at some suitable place, that is where a tree was found growing on a sideling, leaning outwards, and on which was growing a suitable aka (stem of climbing plant). Such an aka would be severed at the base of the tree, and near the lower end would be lashed on it two pieces of wood in the form of a cross. Then one end of a short rope was secured to each of the four points of the cross, the four ropes pulled taut and secured by the other ends to the aka some feet above the cross. Four boys take their station on the kautarere, one standing on each arm of the cross and holding on to the rope stays and the vine. When ready to start, the aka was released and swung away out into space with the riders, then swung back to the starting point and so on. As the apparatus swings out, one rider chants:—

"No wai tenei tarere?" (No whea in another version.)

Whereupon his three companions sing:—

"No te ihu pari roa."

Then the one voice:—

"I u ki whea?"

And three voices:—

"I u ki Tainui." (Tairoa in another version.)

page 151

These lines were chanted to an extremely slow measure, as they were timed to the swinging of the tarere, the words were slowly drawled out by the riders. Accidents sometimes occurred by falling from these swings, or by the aka breaking adrift. Tuta relates such an experience of his youthful days, when, through the lashings carrying away, he and three companions were piled up in a heap away down a hillside, the result being a few broken bones.

The Tuhoe folk have two names for this form of swing, tarere and himorimori. In some cases no crosspiece was lashed on to the pendant vine, the swingers clinging with both hands to it, as to a moari rope, a form of swinging by no means unknown to our own bush dwelling folk, as the writer can testify.

In occasional cases the swing was a plaited rope, and to this was secured another that served as a pulling cord, whereby it was kept going.

Ellis, in describing games and pastimes of the Tahitians, writes:— "They were very fond of the tahoro, or swing, and frequently suspended a rope from the branch of a lofty tree, and spent hours in swinging backwards and forwards. They used the rope singly, and at the lower end fastened a short stick, which was thus suspended in a horizontal position; upon this stick they sat, and, holding by the rope, were drawn or pushed backwards and forwards by their companions."

The pastime known as seesaw was also indulged in by Maori children; it was called tiemi and pioi. The limber branch of a tree, preferably of a prostrate tree, was a favourite pioi. A curious anecdote connected with such a swing is recorded in Vol. XXXIV., Transactions of the N.Z. Institute, p. 64.