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The Material Culture of the Cook Islands (Aitutaki)

Games and Recreations

Games and Recreations.

Toys Made From Cocoanut Leaves.

(1.) Jew's harp, pokăkăkăkă. The pokakaka was a primitive kind of Jew's harp, and corresponds to the Maori roria. A strip of cocoanut leaflet, about an inch wide, was bent in an arch in front of the teeth, with the ends held in by the cheeks. The tip of the tongue may push the strip forward to increase the tension. A piece of the midrib of a leaflet is held transversely with the left hand across the mouth strip, whilst the right forefinger causes it to vibrate.

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A song, amu, is often sung with it, and generally bears on some local topic. Thus, when one of the old schools was being built at Arutangi, a number of widows carried the white coral gravel from Amuri to beautify the paths. Hence the amu of the day was as follows:—

"Kohikohi kirikiri,
Kohikohi kirikiri,
Na te vahine takahua e,
Na te vahine takahua e."

"Gathering gravel,
Gathering gravel,
By the widowed women, Ah!
By the widowed women, Ah!"

There is nothing outstanding in the composition, but the words suited the instrument. This, after all, is the key to the simplest songs and chants used with Polynesian games. The rough English translations can convey no idea of the rhythm and suitability of the original text.

(2.) Leaflet hoop, potaka. A circle or hoop was made of a strip of leaflet about half an inch wide.

(a) A very simple form was made by overlapping the ends of the strip after forming a circle, and merely pinning them together with a short piece of leaflet midrib.

(b) A more elaborate join was formed by making a transverse collar. A short piece of leaflet of the same width as the hoop part, and three times as long as its width, was placed transversely beneath one end of the hoop strip, and one width from its end, Fig. 278A. One side of the short
Figure 278. Technique of leaf hoop, potaka.

Figure 278.
Technique of leaf hoop, potaka.

page 320 piece, a, is folded across as in B. Then the opposite side, b, is folded across, as in C. The end of the long strip, c, is folded back over the transverse band, as in D. The band is now fixed by bending the long strip, e, over c, and passing the free end through the loop made by the short strip, d, on the under side of the long strip, as in E. This is drawn taut and the short ends of a, b, and c are fixed, F. The free end of the long strip is brought round in a circle and the end passed through the collar which holds it in position, as in G.

This toy is said to have been introduced into Aitutaki by the ancestor Ruatapu. After his quarrel with his son, Kirikava, he moved down towards what is now Amuri. Seeing bearers carrying food to the Ariki Taruia, he determined to attract the attention of that high chief. He therefore made a potaka of cocoanut leaflet, which the wind blew along the beach towards Taruia's settlement. The toy was duly picked up and conveyed to the chief. Taruia expressed surprise at this new thing, or pakau. As the cocoanut tree was introduced by Ruatapu and grown at the other end of the island, the surprise of Taruia was probably due not only to the form of the toy, but also to the material from which it was made. The toy, though seemingly insignificant, is of importance in the historical narrative of Aitutaki. The making of such toys should be perpetuated amongst the school children of Aitutaki, as it stresses an important event in the history of their people.

(3.) Windmill, porotaka. Two leaflet strips are doubled and placed as in Fig. 279A, where the strip, c d, encloses the other. The under arm, c, is bent over b, and passed through the loop, e, as in B. The last movement forms a loop, f. The arm, b, is bent over d and passed through the last loop, f, as in C. The four arms are drawn taut, and the loops thereby drawn close, as in D. A leaflet midrib is then passed
Figure 279. Technique of Windmill, porotaka.

Figure 279.
Technique of Windmill, porotaka.

page 321 through the middle and the thin end tied with an overhand knot to prevent it pulling through. Grasping the butt end of the midrib, the child holds the toy up and the windmill spins in the wind.
(4.) Spinner, kuere. A long strip of leaflet is taken and a collar put on one end, exactly as in the potaka hoop. The other end is then bent round, and after doubling back the tip end, it is inserted under the collar band to form
Figure 280. Leaflet spinner, kuere.

Figure 280.
Leaflet spinner, kuere.

the toy shown in Fig. 280. A thread of banana leaf fibre, kuo, is passed through the upper end and tied in a knot to prevent it slipping through. The thread may be tied to a leaflet midrib and carried in the hand, or a number of them may be tied at intervals to a horizontal cord suspended between two trees. Here they spin merrily in the wind.
(5.) Bull-roarer, patangitangi. A piece of leaflet, about 9 inches long and three-quarters of an inch wide, is doubled in the middle at A in Fig. 281. A piece of green leaflet midrib, about nine inches long, has one end pinned through the free ends of the leaflet strip at B. The other end is bent
Figure 281. Technique of leaflet bull-roarer, patangitangi.

Figure 281.
Technique of leaflet bull-roarer, patangitangi.

page 322 over in a bow and inserted between the layers at A, but not right through. The bow keeps the leaflet strip taut. The thin end of a long leaflet midrib is passed through under the pin at C, and is tied with an overhand knot.

The end of the midrib handle is held at D, and the toy is swung round and round, when it makes the typical bullroarer sound. Hence the name, patangitangi. Sometimes the wind pressure turns the edges of the leaflet strip in above. The toy ceases to make a sound. The edges must be separated slightly to again produce the sound.

There is no history of a wooden bull-roarer until after European influence, but the leaflet toy is definitely ancient. Mr. Drury Lowe informed me that in the Island of Mauke a bull-roarer was made of split cocoanut shell, pierced with holes to produce the roaring sound.

(6.) Leaflet canoe, vaka kopae. A toy canoe was made from the young leaves of the cocoanut palm, as they will not split when pinned together. The leaves of the rauhara pandanus may be used. Two leaflets are trimmed to leave about 13 inches of the leaflet attached to the midrib. About 6 inches of the butt end of the midrib is left at one end, and about 9 inches at the tip end. The two leaflet parts are overlapped slightly and pinned together with pieces of leaflet midrib, Fig. 282A. The longer tip ends of midrib are simply bent over and tied to the butt ends, Fig. 282B.

Figure 282.Leaflet canoe, vaka kopae.

Figure 282.
Leaflet canoe, vaka kopae.

These toy canoes may be made of any size. Ruatapu, after having aroused the curiosity of Taruia by the leaflet hoop, sent down a vaka kopae. Taruia then sent for him to see what manner of man he was. Tautoru, the son of Varokura, got into trouble with the children at the village of Puhipuhirangi for excelling them in the sailing of his vaka kopae.

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Objects made of Cocoanut Shell.

(1.) Cocoanut Shell Shoes, tamaka ipu. Half cocoanut shells with the holes in the top were used. A strip of rauhara was passed through one of the holes and a cross stick tied to one end on the under side. The strip was drawn tightly through. The child walked about with the ends of the strips in the hands. They stood on the shells with the cord passing between the big and second toes. Children seem to derive much satisfaction in stamping about on them.

Maori children used the shell of the haliotis, paua, for a similar purpose. In this case a strip of flax was passed through one of the natural holes in the shell.

European children may be seen, on occasion, stamping about on the lids of tins. In the case of the native children nature has provided the object and the hole for the strip. The children of a manufacturing people use a manufactured article, through which a hole is driven with a nail and a hammer. There is no difference theoretically, but practically there is the difference between the stone and the metal ages.

(2.) Casting lots, tukituki teniteni. A number of children play at casting lots, seated in a circle. Each has the bottom half of a cocoanut shell, except one. The exception has an upper half with the natural holes in it. The shell with the holes is the deciding factor in the game.

All the children beat time on the ground in front of them, whilst they chant the following verse:—

"Tukituki teniteni,
Tukituki teniteni,
Ki reira ua ra i
To matariki ki ra pa."

Tukituki, in the opening lines, is to beat on the ground. At the last word, pa, all strike the ground, and then pass to the right, and strike the ground in front of the player on the beat of the song. With each beat the shells pass to the right, so that the shell with the hole circulates round. During the passing stage the following verse is chanted:—

"Torutorua paparoroa,
Tohina motu o temu tare.
Temu tare pa teitei,
Kia motu koe
Kia tere pakaru ai to KE."

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On the last word, KE, the last beat is made. Whoever has the shell with the holes in front of him or her becomes the tupapaku, the dead person, or, in other words, is literally out.

Skipping, Tuhiri kaka.

Skipping was a common pastime amongst children. The rope was a length of vine known as kaka. The vine was swung by two children. Single skipping does not seem to have been indulged in. Wyatt Gill states that the vine used was the green stem of the Entada scandens.

The Maori called the exercise piu. It will be seen that both in Aitutaki and New Zealand the game took its name from the swinging of the rope, whereas the European names it from the physical action of the persons jumping over the moving rope. The action is the same, but in naming the exercise the two races approach the subject from the opposite direction.


The native swing consisted of a single length of the kaka vine attached to the overhanging branch of a tree, and with a stick tied crosswise to the other end, Fig. 283.

Figure 283.The Aitutaki swing.

Figure 283.
The Aitutaki swing.

Toboggan, Tūpāhŏrŏhŏrŏ.

Children amused themselves by sliding down a convenient hill-side seated on the mid-rib of a cocoanut leaf, haniu, with the butt end held between the hands. Aitutaki page 325did not lend itself to the development of special toboggans. This simple toboggan resembles the simpler form used by the Maori, when children coasted down grassy slopes on the leafy head of the Cordyline australis.

Tip Cat, Ipanapana.

This game seems to have been a kind of cricket, played with a stick instead of a ball. In reply to my suspicions regarding European influence, my informant, Monga, of Ureia, said it was played by the children of Puhipuhirangi, in the hidden land of Taki-nuku-akau. If so, it must be ancient.

The ground is the beach, where a shallow trench is dug. The striker is armed with a long stick. A short stick is laid across the trench. Inserting the point of the long stick beneath it, the striker flicks it some distance. The field attempts to catch it on the full. If caught the striker is out. If not caught, the short stick is thrown from where it landed at the trench, which seems to act as a wicket. The striker hits at the short stick in the air and endeavours to hit it as far away as possible. If the stick lands in the trench the striker is out. If he hits it and is caught on the full, he is out. If missed by the field, he steps out to where the catch was missed and measures how many lengths of the long stick there are between that point and the hole. The number of lengths constitutes a count for his side.

The next stage is to lay the short stick in a slanting position against the edge of the trench. The top end is now struck with the long stick in such a way as to cause it to spring up as in tip-cat. Whilst it is in the air, the striker endeavours to hit it as far away as possible. If he is missed by the field, he walks out to where it fell and measures the distance back to the hole in lengths of the short stick. This is added to the total, and the striker commences again as in the first part of the game. In this manner the game proceeds between the two sides.

Jackstones, Pere.

This very old game is played with the stones of the candle nut, tuitui, which are of a convenient and suitable size. A large number of stones are used. The game is played by two or by two pairs of partners.

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The principle of the game is to pick up all the stones from the ground in stages whilst one stone is in the air. The first movement is to toss ail the stones in the air and catch as many as possible on the back of the right hand. Those caught are transferred to the left hand as being out of the game, with the exception of one which is used for tossing. All the stones on the ground have to be picked up whilst the tossed stone is in the air. After picking up any stones from the ground, the tossed stone must be caught in the right hand. If the tossed stone is missed in its descent, or the player does not pick up any stones from the ground ere the tossed stone is caught, the player loses his turn. If the player picks up all the stones without a mistake, that counts one point. The player went on making points until he missed. The winning score was fifteen. With partners, the count went on from where the other left off.

The game consisted of a number of different figures which have to be executed in turn. The first player takes up all the stones in both hands. He throws them all up, but not too high. He quickly turns the back of the right hand upwards, making it as hollow as possible, in order to catch as many stones as he can. No player can catch all the stones in one catch, as the hand is not large enough. All the stones caught are transferred to the left hand and are out of the game. A figure is nominated and the game proceeds from figure to figure until a mistake is made, when the turn passes. The various figures are:—


Pere takitahi.

The stones on the ground have to be picked up singly. One of the stones caught on the back of the hand, is tossed up in the air. The player picks up one stone from the ground with the right hand. The right hand is quickly turned palm upwards to catch the descending stone. One of the two is transferred to the left hand out of the way. The other is tossed up and another stone picked up off the ground and the descending stone caught. In the single stone pick up, only the stone picked up must be touched. Where two stones are lying close together much deftness must be exercised in picking it up neatly without moving the other. If another stone is moved, the player forfeits his turn. If the figure is completed without a mistake, the player goes on to the next figure.

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Pere hakatau mata.

The player must not look at the stones on the ground whilst he is picking them up. The player has a good look at the position of the stones on the ground before the single stone is tossed in the air. Once the stone is tossed the player must keep the face averted. (3.) Pere ope.

The stones must be picked up in twos or fours. Any odd number forfeits the turn.


Pere puta.

After picking up a stone the right hand must be closed so as to make a hole, puta, with the thumb and forefinger. The descending stone must be caught in this puta, and not in the palm.


Pere aro rahi.

The descending stone must be caught on the palm or surface of the fingers, with the back of the hand twisted towards the player. This position is always associated, amongst civilised communities, with the position of the hand of a waiter when surreptitiously accepting a tip. When the author first saw this movement, he was relieved to find that it was merely waiting for the descending stone.


Pere pingohi.

The stone is picked up between the fore and middle fingers, which are pushed along the ground, with their backs towards it.


Pere kare e tangi.

When the stone is picked up off the ground and lies in the right palm, the descending stone must not strike it. Thus the name of the movement is, "The movement that must not make a sound."


Pere tukituki.

As each stone is picked up off the ground it must be tapped twice on the ground ere the descending stone is caught.

When a player takes his turn, he does not have to toss all the stones in the first movement, but only those on the ground that have been left by the previous player, when he made a mistake.

The game teaches quickness of eye and dexterity of movement. It is now mostly played by women, and is pleasing to watch.

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Tops, Potaka or porotakataka.

Tops are known as potaka or porotakataka. Potaka is the Maori name for tops. Potaka is also the Aitutaki name for the cocoanut leaflet hoop and porotaka is the name given to the leaflet windmill. There are two kinds of top and a third form of teetotum.


Wooden tops, potaka rakau. These are the same shape as the usual whip top. The top season was not in amongst the children, so no specimens were seen. The old people, however, stated that they were exactly the same shape as the Maori tops figured by Mr. Elsdon Best. The wood used was the hau, tamanu, nono, and others.


Cocoanut tops, potaka hakari. These were made from the whole shell of the small cocoanut known as rakita. The cocoanut was husked and the shell was used either with the flesh in or after it had been removed. The flesh was rotted out by pouring in sea water through the upper holes. Some had a hole bored in the side to make a humming sound when the top was spinning.


Teetotum, potaka miro. The dry midrib of a cocoanut leaflet was thrust through the berry of the miro and left with a short end to form the spinning point. The other end of the midrib was left long and twisted between the palms of the hands to make the teetotum spin.

The whip, tahiri, was made from the kaihara, aerial root of the pandanus. One end was kept as a handle and the other end beaten until the fibres were spread out, to serve as the lash. The whip was about 2 feet 6 inches long.

Spinning cord. The tops were spun with a cord, probably on account of the short length of the whip. The cord was a strip of kirihau, hibiscus bast. In the case of the cocoanut top the bast strip was wound round the middle of the nut and a twist taken round the right forefinger. The top was spun with a quick outward jerk and a pull inwards of the cord. The same was done with the wooden top, but the winding was made round the upper part. After starting the top with the cord, the kaihara whip continued the spinning. Tops were made to fight by driving them so as to meet. The use of stone tops was unknown.

When the strip of bark was wound round the top preparatory to spinning, the following pehe was recited:—

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Top-spinning Chant.
Tatarake, tatarake,
Ka pene te niko,
Rani kute, rani kute,
Kokiritua, kokiritua,
Tahurihuri, tahurihuri,
E rua te awa e—­

Tatarake, tatarake,
Stand on your point,
My eyes are red with effort.
Do not stick like the kokiri fish,
But spin, spin,
And groove the land like a river.

At the last word, e—, the bark strip was thrown out and jerked in to spin the top. In reciting the chant, several children repeated it together, and all spun at the same time.

Stilts, rore.

Stilts or rore were used by children in the ordinary way, or in competitions, when they took sides and tried to knock one another down. They were also used by men in dances. Stilt dancing was made a special feature by the people of Vaipae. In a demonstration given by four men, they danced to the music of the small wooden takere, supplemented by the beating of a large drum of European origin. They kept perfect time to the music, and their acrobatic performance seemed quite easy to them. Fig. 284.
Figure 284. Men of Vaipae village on stilts.

Figure 284.
Men of Vaipae village on stilts.

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The stilt consisted of a pole of hau about 8 feet 2 inches long. The step was also made of hau, and in shape was very much like the step on a Maori digging implement, ko. It was 6 inches wide at the foot rest, and about 10 inches in a vertical measurement. It was lashed on to the handle with strips of hau, bark, as shown in Fig. 285. The step was 1 foot 8 inches above the ground.

Figure 285.Dimensions of stilt, rore.

Figure 285.
Dimensions of stilt, rore.

Cat's Cradle, hai.

String figures, under the name of hai, are known throughout the group. Time did not permit of following up this interesting subject. The figure known as rau nahe, the leaf of the nahe fern, is shown in Fig. 286. The figures
Figure 286. The rau nahe string figure.

Figure 286.
The rau nahe string figure.

are usually in series, one leading on to another. Thus the rau nahe, above, goes on to Nga toka aravei, Nga tamariki tiaki ra, Pahata puha, and Peru rakiki. In a figure called Nga tamariki tu pahorohoro, the children on a toboggan, two figures are shown on the string. On the string being pulled the figures run swiftly to the ends and slide off.
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Another figure was the well-known Maori one of mouti mouhaere. It was known as Moko. With it went a couplet.

Ka haere a Moko,
Ki te kimi vahine.

Moko goes a-seeking,
A-seeking for a wife.

In olden days the string was made of hau or oronga.

Kites, manu tukutuku.

Amongst the many kites that were known in ancient times only three were remembered.

(1.) Manu teketeke vaihi. In this form three stakes of hau were used. Two were crossed diagonally and one transversely, Fig. 287. These were lashed together at the crossing point. Sinnet braid was run round the ends of the stakes and attached to each. This formed the frame-work. Over the frame bark cloth was spread. The cloth was doubled over the sinnet braid and the overlap sewn with fibre, using an iron-wood needle to pierce the cloth. In some cases breadfruit gum, tapou, was used instead of sewing.

Figure 287.Framework of manu, teketeke vaihi kite.

Figure 287.
Framework of manu, teketeke vaihi kite.

Tail. Two sinnet cords were attached to the end of the stakes at A and B. These cords were brought together and knotted at C to balance the kite. If the kite was unsteady, a bunch of hau bast was tied to the end of the tail at C. The tail was called the awe.

String. The string was the aho tukutuku. It was made of sinnet or hau bast, or from the banana fibre, kua. The string was tied at the crossing of the stakes at D. If the head of the kite rose too high, the string was advanced and fixed to a cross piece tied to the two diagonal stakes at E.

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(2.) Manu patiki. The frame was made of two stakes, one long and one short, which crossed at right angles, Fig. 288. A sinnet cord was run round the outer side, but did not reach to the lower end of the long rod. The cord was
Figure 288. Framework of manu patiki kite.

Figure 288.
Framework of manu patiki kite.

attached to the long stake at the point B. To the end of the long stake a tail of hau bast, about two spans in length, was attached. The string was attached to the crossing of the two rods.

The frame was lozenge-shaped, and hence was likened to a flounder, patiki.

(3.) Manu tangi. This form was a variety of the first. The framework was the same as regards the stakes and the sinnet braid round the ends. At the upper ends of the diagonal rods, Fig. 289 A and B, a curved piece of stick, C, was attached to the ends of the rods. From the middle of this curved stick, another short rod, D, was attached to the crossing of the frame at X.

Figure 289.Framework of manu tangi kite.

Figure 289.
Framework of manu tangi kite.

The bark cloth covering was put on, but instead of forming a level surface at A B X, it was curved over the stick D. Its edge was attached along the curved rod C, instead of being attached along the sinnet cord at K. This formed a gutter, along which the wind roars when the kite is flying. A piece of cloth of the same shape as the gutter was attached to the sinnet string K by doubling the end page 333over and sticking it with arrowroot. It was this that caused the noise, which could be heard a mile away.

It is said that this type was introduced from one of the other islands. According to Mr. Lowe, it was very popular in Mauke. The string was tied, and they were left flying all night, making a tremendous roaring sound the while.

Off Ureia the kites were flown from the beach, tahatai, usually when the north-west wind, parapu, was blowing. The wind carried the kite inland. Before setting out to fly a kite, three things had to be done:—

(1.)Hakapapa i te aho—Coil the string.
(2.)Tapeka ki te manu—Tie it to the kite.
(3.)Haere ki tahatai—Go to the beach.

When the kite was flown the following song, amu, was recited.

Song for Flying Kites.
Tukutukuhia taku manu,
Tukutukuhia taku manu.
Ka mou ki te tarahau,
Ka mou ake ana
Ki te pito uta, ki tapa tahatai.
Ka motukia e te kanga e—o—
Ka re re kuekue,
Ka nui au ki tau e—
Mate tane.
Taku manu nei, taku manu nei,
Ka rua kapanga,
Tahirihiri i te aroaro o te rangi.
Tutere tane, karia ki hiti,
Karia ki tonga.
Oraurau te manu aku.
Tau ra ki te makatea.

Pay out, pay out the line of my bird.
Slack out, slack out the line of my bird,
Lest it be caught in the tops of the trees.
It is attached at its mid point
And to the edge of the beach.
But it may be snapped by a mischief-maker. Ah—oh—
It ascends, it mounts against the wind.
Ah! I am full of pride,
And love it as a maid her lover.
Ah! Bird of mine, bird of mine,
Your two wings flap and flutter
And fan the face of the sky.
Man-like you swiftly dart to the east.
You direct your course to the south.
Come down, descend, Oh bird of mine
And alight on the rocky uplands.

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The chant goes through the various phases of the flight of a kite. At the words, "It ascends, it mounts," the kite flier begins to dance with joy, keeping time with the words of the chant. The words rua kapanga occur in Maori legend as the name of a great bird, but my informants disclaimed any knowledge of this fabulous bird. They maintained that in the song, rua meant the two wings and kapanga, was the flapping of the wings. The quick darts to the east and the south immediately precede the descent of the kite.

Another charming amu is a lament on losing a kite through the cord snapping.

Lament or losing a kite.
Motukia taku manu,
Motukia ki taupiri, taupiri.
Hakarere, hakarere taku manu,
Hakarere ki te toro haere.
Toro haere taku manu,
Kua puhiahia e te tupuna matangi.
Tei te hiti ki hea?
Tei te hiti ki o Takurua.
Kua pipiri ki hea?
Kua pipiri ki runga ki te rangi e
     Kato hau e.—
Ko te rere i taku manu
Hakairiiri ki te tua rangi.
Ko te ngutu i taku manu
Hakaareare ki te maoake—
     Homai te roro e—
     Homai Akaria e—
     Homai te roro e —
     Homai Akaria e—
     Nga Akaria i Akaria e—
Nga hakakino i hakakino e—
E horo ki Rama,
Akaria e hakakino mai e—
E motu te rimarima,
E motu te vaevae,
Tiri hekie, vetekia,
Tiri hekie, vetekia.
    E kuku tuarea,
    Ekieki te mokora.
        E TI.

Alas! The cord of my kite has snapped.
My bird is lost in space, the space of far-away.
Fly on, fly on, my bird.
Fly on to visit.
Visit here and visit there, my bird.
For thou art swept away by the ancestor of the winds.
page 335 Where hast thou gone?
Thou hast gone to the home of the star Takurua.
Where art thou clinging?
    Thou art clinging above to the breast of the Sky.
Thou art lost in the space of heaven.
Ah! The flight of my bird,
It is hanging on the back of the sky.
The beak of my bird
Droops despondently towards the North-East Wind.
    Oh! Give me my desire.
    Return my bird to Akaria.
    Oh! Grant me my wish.
    Return to Akaria.
Ah! thoughts of Akaria at Akaria.
Ah! sorrows that sadden.
Let us flee away to Rama,
For Akaria blames me.
But alas! The cord snapped in my hands,
It snapped under my feet.
The useless cord unfastened,
It was cast aside, unfastened.
    I weep in bitter grief
    And gasp like a startled duck.

The lost kite was flown at Akaria, hence the references in the lament. The simile of the startled duck is expressive.

Darts, teka.

The throwing of darts as a game is universal throughout Polynesia. In Aitutaki it has not been quite abandoned, though it is almost on the verge of being numbered amongst the things of the past. The darts, or teka, are made from a cane also known as teka. There are five varieties used on the island.

(1.) Okaoka. The okaoka was made of teka cane or a slim rod of hau. It was up to two spans in length. The front end was usually bound round with a strip of hau bast, or pandanus. A head of hard wood, such as was used in Niue, was unknown. The extra length made the dart go straighter. It was thrown with both hands. The right hand grasped the end, whilst the other hand held the shaft.

(2.) Tumutumu. The tumutumu was always of teka cane. It was much shorter than the okaoka, being from 2 to 4 feet in length. The length was a question of individual preference, as some could cast a short dart further than a longer one. In a competition held between the various villages, quite a number of competitors had short page 336darts, about 2 feet 3 inches long. None of these, however, were successful. The darts used by the most skilful were of medium length, about 3 feet 9 inches.

The front end of the tumutumu is bound round with a strip of hau bast, which may or may not be twisted into a cord on the thigh. The fibre of the banana, kua, is also a favourite binding material. One end of the strip was covered over completely by the winding. Towards the end of the binding a loop was made, over which the binding was continued. To finish off, the free end of the strip was passed through the loop, the loop was drawn back under the binding, and the free end of the strip was bitten off.

Figure 290.Throwing the short teka dart, tumutumu.

Figure 290.
Throwing the short teka dart, tumutumu.

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The bound end was called the kouma. It was so bound to correct the tendency of the dart to fly upwards, rere tuarangi. If the dart goes too high it loses distance. The dart is first tested by throwing, and the kouma bound on afterwards to correct any deficiency. Over the binding a coating of breadfruit gum, tapou, is spread, to give the kouma even consistency. The teka cane selected is fairly thin, being from 3/10ths to 2/5ths of an inch in diameter. The tumutumu is thrown with one hand, as in Fig. 290.

(3.) Teka ta manuhiri. This form of dart is made from a piece of teka cane about 1 foot 4 inches long, with a piece of cocoanut midrib stuck in one end. The cane has a pith canal, into which the leaflet midrib is easily stuck. The midrib forms the tail of the dart.

The dart is thrown with a strip of hau bast. One end of the throwing strip is knotted with an overhand knot. This end is passed transversely round the node nearest the tail end and the strip brought over its own end close to the knot, Fig. 291A. The node helps to keep the turn of the throwing strip from slipping along the shaft.

Figure 291.Position of throwing strip on teka ta manuhiri.

Figure 291.
Position of throwing strip on teka ta manuhiri.

A, before release. B, after release.

The strip is drawn taut along the shaft to near the front end. A few turns are taken round the right forefinger. With the throwing strip taut, the front end of the dart is seized between the right forefinger and thumb. The dart is then cast. Before release the pressure of the taut strip over its knotted end keeps the turn of the strip in position. The throwing strip gives a longer purchase in casting, in the same manner as the throwing stick of the Australian aborigines. As the dart goes forward past the finger holding the strip, the turn over the knot automatically releases, Fig. 291B.

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(4.) Teka kiore. The teka kiore is formed from a short piece of wood about 10 inches long. It is a little thicker than the thumb and is sharpened at one end. A cocoanut leaflet midrib is stuck into the blunt end to form a tail, Fig. 292.

Figure 292.The tika kiore dart.

Figure 292.
The tika kiore dart.

The dart is thrown with one hand against a mound to cause it to rise high in the air. Height, and not distance, was desired. As my informant, Kahu, said, "It rises high amongst the tree tops, and seems to climb them like a rat" (kiore). This ascribed resemblance gives the dart the name of teka kiore.

(5.) Teka kokihi. The kokihi is a wooden rod thrown with a cord attached to a handle. The game is played on the beach. A cord of hau, with an overhand knot at one end is attached to a handle. The knot on the free end of the cord is fixed to one end of a stick by a turn, in exactly the same manner as the teka ta manuhiri. Two or three loose turns are taken round the rod to bring the cord near the front end, Fig. 293. The rod is laid on the ground, and a sharp jerk sends the dart forward. The release is the same as in the teka ta manuhiri.

Figure 293.The teka kokihi dart, with throwing cord on handle.

Figure 293.
The teka kokihi dart, with throwing cord on handle.

Casting the teka. The old word for casting the teka is uka. The okaoka, was thrown with both hands into the air. The tumutumu was held with the right forefinger over the unbound end. This end was trimmed to suit the taste of the owner. Some were cut straight across, others slanted, and others grooved to fit the forefinger. With the forefinger bent over the end, the shaft was gripped between the thumb page 339and middle finger. In advancing to throw, the teka was held in a natural position across the breast. The player took his run, and as he neared the mark he brought the right hand back to full stretch, turned sideways, and, stooping, dashed the teka forwards and downwards, so that the head struck glancing against the ground immediately to the front. A slight rise in the ground favours the throw, but no artificial mound was made. In fact, the properly cast dart will rise off the level ground. The dart glances off the ground, and the effect is surprising. A good cast will rise in a swift, low trajectory, reach its maximum height like a golf ball, and come gracefully down. It is the straight throw with the right trajectory that denotes skill. A poor throw will not rise, or will rise too high, and so lose distance. Some strong throws will turn to the right or left, and also lose distance. The competition is for distance. Distance cannot be obtained unless direction is maintained, as well as strength and trajectory. In competitions there are no restrictions as to the length of the dart. The long okaoka may compete against the short tumutumu. Skill will conquer in either case. Hence the challenge issued by the advocates of the short dart:

Homai a okaoka kia tumutumu.
 Bring the okaoka against the tumututmu.

To this, the others replied:—

Homai a tumutumu kia okaoka.
 Bring the tumutumu against the okaoka.

Scoring. In matches all the competitors had one throw from a given mark. They could take as long a run as they liked, but crossing the mark disqualified the throw. The longest throw counted one. The first competitor to reach six won. The counting of the numbers is not the usual numeration, but is peculiar to the game. The words are given with the ordinary words in brackets.

1.Kereti (Tahi).
2.Karua (Rua).
3.Kiha (Toru). Ha means four.
4.Kiono (Ha). Ono means six.
5.Ituku (Rima).
6.Re (Ono). Re means victory.

A dead heat between throws is called mua te kai.

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Competition. The ancient game was revived during the author's visit by a competition of teams of five men from each of the seven villages. It was a most graceful game to watch, and should not be allowed to die out. One competitor tried the teka ta manuhiri, but it did not prove successful. All the others used the tumutumu, with the exception of a man from Manihiki. He used the Manihiki dart, which is made from the midrib of a cocoanut leaf. It was about 6 feet 9 inches long, with a sharpened point, and the other end notched. It was thrown forward with both hands, and ran along the ground. It needs a hard ground to have any chance against the tumutumu. Here the ground was against it yet it succeeded in scoring one point. The longest throw, of 86 yards, was recorded by one Tahunga, who is shown in Fig. 290.

Tradition. The game of teka is said to have originated with Ngata, an ariki of Iva, in the Marquesas. Young men went to Ngata and asked him what was the rare mataora, the most exciting game. He replied that it was the casting of darts. The young men returned to their homes, but owing to their lack of skill they had to return to Ngata for lessons. Whilst Ngata was showing them, he recited an incantation which caused his dart to disappear over the horizon, te pae o te rangi.

Dart Incantation.
Ka uka te uka i te teka a Ngata,
Ka piri ki te tihi o rangi.

Cast the cast of the dart of Ngata,
It reaches to the summit of the sky.

Thus the knowledge of the skilled casting of the teka dart comes from Ngata-ariki, of the Land of Iva.

In the legend of Varo-kura, we find that the game of teka was played at the village of Puhipuhirangi, in the Hidden Land of Taki-nuku-akau. Tautoro, the son of Varokura, defeated the children of Puhipuhirangi in a game of teka. They were evidently bad sports, for they assaulted him, and thus caused him to leave for the land of Hiti-kau in search of his father. The children of Puhipuhirangi were said to have excelled at all games, and the phrase, "Tamariki Puhipuhirangi" (children of Puhipuhirangi) became associated with high proficiency in any game.

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Disc Throwing, pua.

The game of pua is played with a wooden disc made of iron-wood, toa. It was played in Aitutaki and Atiu, and other islands of the Lower Group, with the exception of Mangaia. In Mangaia there was a local game called tupe. The object of the pua game was to throw it as far as possible.

The disc, pua. The average disc was 5½ inches in diameter. The thickness at the centre was l¾ inches, and at the edge, 1 inch. It was smoothed and polished and fairly heavy. The weight was about 1½ pounds.

Throwing strip. The disc was thrown with a strip of hau bark, about half an inch wide and 7 or 8 feet long. One end was placed on the periphery of the disc and the strip was wound carefully and closely round the circumference for several turns. The free end was then twisted round the right forefinger and the disc grasped between the forefinger and thumb, with the palm upwards.

The throw. The thrower took quite a long run, and as he approached the mark, drew back the right arm. As he reached the mark, the right arm was thrown forward, underhand, with all the force the player was capable of. The bark strip, being fixed to the forefinger, was given an upward jerk as the disc left the hand. The rapid unwinding of the bark strip gave the disc a forward top spin. The straight direction had to be maintained. The disc struck the ground some distance ahead of the mark and bounded on with extraordinary velocity. It simply whizzed through the air, making a humming sound in the first part of its course. If it ran off the course and struck any object, it would leap high in the air, sufficient to carry it over the top of adjoining houses.

The score. The object was distance, but as in the case of the teka, this depends largely on good direction being maintained. The course is usually a stretch of road, and any departure from its narrow width means running into trees and other obstacles. In a game all the players have a throw, and the furthest throw counts a point. The side that reaches ten wins. The score is kept by prefixing tu to the ordinary numerals:

3. Tutoru, etc., up to
10. Tungahuru.
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Competitions. Competitions were formerly held between the various villages, as many as 40 men a side taking part. In the competition arranged to demonstrate the game for the purposes of this work, the seven villages were represented by teams of five each. There were thus 35 men lined up, and each man had his own disc.

The course and officials. The course was along the same stretch of read used in the teka competition. Owing to loose sand and the narrowness of the road, it had its drawbacks. A starting line was drawn across the road and marksmen appointed to see that it was not crossed during the delivery of the pua. Crossing the line before the pua touched the ground disqualified the throw.

Half way along the course, two men were stationed to keep the course clear. They had to keep their wits about them to keep clear themselves of the whizzing discs. At the far end were two judges to decide on close throws and keep the score. Two markers marked the longest throw with cocoanut leaflet midribs. Some distance in front of the judges was a crier, who signalled for the next throw. This was to protect the judges and the markers, when extra time was required in registering a good throw or deciding on the better of two.

The game. The officials decided the order of the villages. On commencing all the members of one team followed on, and their farthest throw was registered. The excitement of supporters grew as the game proceeded. When a team was leading with the longest throw, its supporters and the team itself watched the subsequent throws with audible excitement. As a good disc bounded down the course the cry was raised, "Haere ki uta," or "Haere ki tai"; "Go inland," or "Go coastward." It mattered not which, so long as the dangerous disc quitted the course. When the 35 throws had been made, the longest throw registered a point for his village. If two or more members of one team threw further than any of the others, their team counted the two or more points. With seven teams, it was rarely that a team scored more than two points on one head. When all had thrown, the players and the officials changed over. So the game went on until one team had scored ten.

The above game, with seven teams competing at once, was not the usual procedure. With plenty of time, two page 343teams competed and the winners were challenged by another. In these matches the excitement was more intense. When one team had registered their furthest, the other team sent in a good man to beat it. He was called the arataki pua. It might so happen that the previous team had registered six good throws. These were called six aho. If the arataki pua passed two of the six marks, he cut them out and they could not score. The crier called "E ha aho toe," "Four scores remain." The crier might then call, "Homai tetahi aho ketaketa, ririnui, kia tupu te lira ki te rangi." "Put in a strong scorer, whose wrath will burn like fire to the heavens." Should no player reach the remaining four marks, the team which made them scored four points in one head. Should, however, a strong throw pass all the four marks, they are cut out, and the score goes to the longest throw. It was then that the supporters of that side broke into dance and exulted in the following song:—

Kua re, kua re.
Kua re hoki te pua o taku nei tama e.
Kua re.

It has won, it has won.
The disc of my son has won.
It has won.

If there were some more players of the same side to follow, the crier would call, "Homai hoki tetahi aho ei kauhono"; "Send down another scoring disc to add to the other."

Figure 294.Spectators during pua competition.

Figure 294.
Spectators during pua competition.

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The longest throw during the competition between the seven villages was 253 yards. Fig. 294 shows the people on the sides of the course during the competition.

Remarks. The pua was the best Polynesian game the author has seen. It requires strength, skill, and accuracy. The manner in which the discs bound along the course has to be seen to be believed. Every now and again a disc left the course and spectators scurried behind trees and houses to escape. At the end of a good throw, the disc rolls slowly along on its edge, as if seeking the furthest mark, whilst crier and markers dash along in its wake yelling at the crowd to get out of its way and not spoil a good throw. On one occasion a buggy full of women, who thought they were well in the rear, stopped a good throw. Amidst shouts and laughter the buggy was seized and run back another 20 yards, to the great disgust of the occupiers of this temporary grandstand.

The game is one that should be encouraged by annual competition amongst the villages.

In Percy Smith's 1 brief account of the game, as described to him by Lieut.-Colonel Gudgeon, for the neighbouring island of Mauke, he states that the object was to reach a certain point in the fewest number of throws. If this is correct, it seems a curious variant of the game as played in Aitutaki.

1 Smith, S. Percy, 1901, I.