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The Coming of the Maori

Bull Roarer, and Whizzer

Bull Roarer, and Whizzer

The bull roarer (purorohu, purerehua, etc.) as described by Best (18, p. 163) was made of a thin, flat piece of wood, usually matai, 12 to 18 inches in length and shaped in elliptical form with pointed ends. A cord about 4 feet in length was attached to one end and the other end was attached to a handle about 3 feet long. The operator, holding the handle, whirled the instrument with increasing velocity until it emitted a whirring sound which developed into a boom. According to one Maori authority it was used in a ceremony to attract rain when needed by the crops. If so, it cannot be regarded as a children's toy. The example shown in Figure 72b is ornamented with a scroll pattern derived from rafter paintings.

page 268

Various simple forms were made in Polynesia as children's toys.

The whizzer (korohuhu, porotiti, etc.) was made as a children's toy. Best (18, p. 164) describes it as made of thin wood of the same shape as the bull roarer but about 3 inches in length. Two holes were pierced near the middle, a cord passed through both, and the ends tied together. The thumbs were hooked in the bights of the cord loop and according to Best, by timing the outward pull, the piece of wood was made to revolve rapidly both ways alternately as the cord drill is worked. As children, we made them of a circular disc of pumpkin rind but the disc was swung in a circular manner so as to twist the cord loop on either side. After that, it worked like the drill by unwinding and winding up through its impetus. A whizzing sound was made as the disc revolved.