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Volume 34, 1901
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Art. IV.—The Diversions of the Whare Tapere: Some Account of the various Games, Amusements, and Trials of Skill practised by the Maori in Former Times..

[Read before the Auckland Institute, 7th October, 1901.]

“Ka kawea tatou e te rehia” (We are allured by the arts of pleasure).

Among races not possessing a written language and literature it is not surprising to find that great prominence is given to games and amusements of various kinds, more especially to those which would serve to while away the hours of darkness.

The Maori people of this land, although possessing no graphic system prior to the arrival of Europeans, had, nevertheless, a most extensive collection of ancient sagas, songs, history, folk and other lore retained by their wondrous memories, and thus handed down orally from one generation to another. Such knowledge was most extensively drawn upon during winter evenings or inclement weather for the amusement of the people. They possessed, moreover, a great liking for amusements in the form of games, dancing, toys, and, as we have said, story-telling. As little has been placed on record anent such matters, I propose to bring together in this article such notes under the above heading as have been collected from the Tuhoe Tribe of natives. It is therefore safe to say that this article will be by no means an exhaustive one, and will but serve to give an idea of what forms of games, &c., were indulged in by the denizens of Tuhoeland in pre-pakeha days. Such amusements would be described by the modern Maori as “ahuareka,” but in the days of yore they were described by the term “rehia,” and “Nga mahi a te rehia” meant “the art of pleasure.”

The Whare Tapere.

The whare tapere was a house where the young people of a fort or village would gather at night in order to amuse themselves in various ways—i.e., with singing, dancing, playing of games, &c. It was the play-house of the neolithic Maori, and doubtless the prototype of the modern theatre of the intrusive pakeha (Europeans). It was not necessary that a village should have a house set aside or used specially for amusement. Such terms as “whare tapere,” “whare potae,” “whare pora,” &c., are to a great extent mere figures of speech. Still all amusements are spoken of as the arts of the whare tapere—i.e., the art of pleasure.

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In this article I propose to deal not only with such forms of amusement as pertained to the whare tapere, but also to pass out from that edifice in order to mention certain outdoor games of past generations; for of all the ancient games of Maoriland but few have survived, and those few are not as the men of old knew them: the trail of the pakeha is over them all.

The Personification of Pleasure.

Kant speaks of the category of causality as being a necessary form of pure reason. It is highly improbable that the ancient Maori had perused the works of the latter-day Teutonic philosopher. There are a few chronological and other reasons against such an assumption. And although his primitive intellect has ever felt that causality exists, yet he would but know it in an abstract form—that is to say, as a law of thought. That half-knowledge, however, prompted his crude mental powers to seek not the true cause of things, but the agency by which they were presented to his sight, hearing, or understanding. Thus the ancient Maori had, after how many centuries of groping through the gloom, personified almost everything that came under his notice. His limited mentality sought an agent for all things, and that agent was invariably presented to his vision in human form. Thus in the extensive and wondrous Maori mythology we find personifications—i.e., anthropomorphous agents—which represent war, peace, disease, the sky, the earth, the sun, moon, and stars, meteors, rainbows, fire, water, fish, birds, trees, heat, the seasons, death, &c.

In like manner are the arts of carving, weaving, &c., supplied with such personifications, and a myth of a similar nature is attached to the art of pleasure. Games and amusements have their mythic agent or tutelary deity, to whom is attributed their invention. Among the majority of Maori tribes this personification or agent is Rau-kata-uri, a name often coupled with that of Rau-kata-mea. To these are attributed flute-playing and games of amusement. Among the Tuhoe Tribe, however, the places of the above are taken by Marere-o-tonga and Takataka-putea. These two mythical beings were, to the Child of Tamatea,* the origin and personification of nga mahi a te rehia—the art of pleasure. The names of many such personifications, &c., differ among the Tuhoe Tribe, which may be explained by the fact that among these people are preserved the purest versions of the myths, rites, and legends of the original migration of Polynesians to this land, a migration that probably emanated from the

[Footnote] * The Child of Tamatea: A term applied to the Tuhoe Tribe.

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western Pacific, whereas the latter migration came from the far east.

It should be here remarked that these personifications or tutelary genii are not termed “gods” (atua) by the Maori, but merely “parents” or “origins.” In like manner the rendering of the word “atua” by the term “god” is objectionable; “demon” is more acceptable.

The following is a genealogy of Takataka-putea and Marere-o-tonga, although certain traditions place them much further back. It is well to note here that the Maori looks upon most of the singular personifications of Polynesian mythology as ancestors of man, and traces his descent from many of them, as, indeed, he does from the sky, the earth, the heavenly bodies, &c.:—

In White's “Ancient History of the Maori,” vol. iii, page 23, is the following sentence: “Nukutere was the vessel of Whiro-nui, ancestor of Porou-rangi, and of his wife Arai-

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ara The wise men (tohunga) of that vessel were Takatakaputea and Marere-o-tonga.” Again, at page 7 is the following: “Uenuku asked, ‘O, Whena! Where are our children?’ And Whena replied, ‘They are allured by pleasure (rehia). They are enjoying the arts of their ancestors, of Takataka-putea and Marere-o-tonga.’ In Shortland's “Maori Religion,” page 17, these two are said to be twins, and the offspring of Papa-tuanuku, or Mother Earth.

Takataka-putea is the name of one of the nights of the moon, either the last or one of the last. When the moon dies then the wise men say, “Takataka-putea is in the hole (abyss or space) rolling about.”

The following fragment of mythological lore, preserved by Ngati-awa, places this pair far back in the night of time: “When Rongo was defeated by Tu-mata-uenga he went to the whare patahi, to Marere-o-tonga and Timu-whakairia, to fetch the wananga to seek for peace. The wananga brought to this land (New Zealand) was the wananga of witchcraft. It was brought on Takitumu.” The whare patahi appears to have been some sacred place or receptacle for sacred things. “Wananga” is a difficult word to define the meaning of. Meanings thereof given to me are—(1) A priest or seer; (2) a receptacle for sacred things; (3) a medium, as of a god; (4) (as a verb) to recite, as a genealogy, or declaim, as in reviling a person. In Paumotuan “vananga” means “to warn by advice, counsel; to discourse.” Hawaiian wanana, “to prophesy.” In Mangarevan vananga is “a herald, an orator, a prayer”; as a verb, “to name again and again,” &c.; while etua-vananga means “a war-chief.” Wanawana in Maori (New Zealand) means “spines, bristles, rays,” &c.

The whare patahi was probably some form of primitive temple or repository, material or imaginary. Possibly it may have been the ancient prototype of the whata puaroa. The following fragment seems to denote that it was a sort of temple of peace, or talisman:—

Te whare patahi
E hui te rongo,
E hui te rongo,
E puta mai ki waho.

The following song was sung when peace was desired or about to be cemented. Tuhoe say that it was composed by Te Turuki (Te Kooti of infamous memory), but it bears an ancient impress:—

E mahi ana ano a Tu raua ko Rongo
I ta raua mā;ra, koia Pohutukawa
Ka patua tenei, koia moenga kura
Ka patua tetahi, koia moenga toto
Na raua ano ka he 1 te rir

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Ka tikina ki raro ra
Kia Marere o-tonga, kia Timu-whakairia
E ora ana te wananga—e
Mauria mai nei ko te rongo-a-whare
Ko te rongo-taketake
Ki mua ki te atua
Ka whakaoti te riri—e.

The following song is very old, and refers to the period of the Maori sojourn in Rarotonga, about five hundred years ago. It contains references to a well-known incident in Maori history, and also mentions the name of Marere-o-tonga:—

Noho noa whati tata, haereere noa ra te takutai
Kua pono ano ki te iwi no paraoa
Mauria mai nei hai heru ‘tahi taha
Hai patu ‘tahi taha
Manaakitia mai nei e Uenuku
Tae noa mai nei kua he te iringa o te heru
Me ui ra ki te poupou o te whare,
Kaore te ki mai te waha
Me ui ra ki te tuarongo o te whare,
Kaore te ki mai te waha
Me ui ra ki te tiki nei, kia Kahutia-te-rangi
Kai hea taku heru?
Tena ka riro i te tahae poriro tiraumoko nei
Moenga-hau nei, moenga raukawakawa nei.
Ka mate tera i te whakama
Ka hiko ki tona waka
Kia Tu-te-pewa-a-rangi nei
Ka hoe ki waho ki te moana
Ka unuhia te koremu
Ka mate i reira Epipi, ka mate i reira Tahau
Ka mate i reira te ara o Tu-mahina nei
Matariki ka* kau i te ata nei—e
Tena a Ruatapu kai te whakakau
I te moana e takoto nei—e
Te hinga nei—e. Te wharenga nei—e
Te marara nei—e
Pokia iho ra te Puke ki Hikurangi
Tutu noa ana Marere-o-tonga kia mau.

Hamiora Pio, of the Children of Awa, says, “Rongo visited Marere-o-tonga and Timu-whakairia. When Rongo returned from his visit to the heavens he saw Marere-o-tonga blocking up a cave to enclose him in. Then Rongo slew Marere-o-tonga, who may be seen by looking up into space—he is suspended from the heavens.”

But the door of the whare tapere is open. The young people of the year 400 Anno Toi are collected therein, and the games and amusements of old are in full swing. We will enter and seat ourselves on the right-hand side, against the wall. We are looking upon the young people of that date, clothed simply in kilt or girdle, and collected in picturesque

[Footnote] * Or kakau, a star.

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groups. We stay time and roll back the years that you may see the amusements of the Children of Toi, the arts of the where tapere—nga mahi a te rehia, a te harakoa—the arts of pleasure and of joy. We produce the modern notebook.Ka kawea tatou e te rehia:

Haka: Posture Dances.

The haka was the most general and popular form of amusement in the whare tapere of old, and it is one of the few that have survived the advent of the white man. There were, and still are, many different forms of haka, some of which, as the haka koiri, are now obsolete, and many show traces of European influence. They are interesting to onlookers inasmuch as the performers keep such remarkably good time in the various movements. And such movements are many; the limbs, head, hips, and body are all subjected to various flourishing, swaying, or quivering motions, many of a dædalian nature and none awkward or uncouth, but graceful and pleasing to the eye.

Haka are composed in honour of a distinguished guest or important personage, to satirise or show approval of some individual or tribal act, or to deride and belittle an enemy. The latter, however, is probably more properly termed a “ngeri.”

New haka are often composed, even in these degenerate times, on the lines given above.

The following fragment will explain the way of rendering a haka:

The fugleman (solus): “A-a-a-a-a-a! He ringa pakia.”

[Here all players begin to strike their hands on their thighs, in time.]

Fugleman: “I ki mai nga iwi o te motu nei ma te rohe potae au ka mate.”

Chorus: “Kaore!”

Fugleman: “I ki mai nga iwi o te motu nei ma te rohe potae au au ka mate.”

Chorus: “Kaore! Kaore!”

All continue: “Ma (mea tangata), he aha! Ma (mea tangata), he aha! Ma Timi Kara e whakawhaiti,” &c.

The origin of the haka is, so say the Maori, the haka a Raumati (the dancing of Raumati, the personification of summer). This term is applied to the quivering appearance of heated air as seen on a hot day. Another name for it is te haka a Tane-rore, the latter being the offspring of summer. In the ancient Maori mythology Te Ra (the sun) married Raumati (summer), their offspring being Tane-rore, the quivering heat. When Ruaumoko (god or demon of the underworld and originator of earthquakes) pulls the cords that move the

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earth, then the haka a Tane-rore is seen. The following is the haka of Raumati:—

E whiti te ra, paroro ki te kiri
Ka haramai koe, ka ruru i aku iwi
I te hinapouri kerekere
I taia iho nei ki raro ra i au e
Pai aha ha!

The following is the original haka, the first one known in the world:—

Aue! Te ra, te whetu, ka rere mai i te pae
Ko Kopu koia kapokapo mai e i te tautara
Kia auroroa i au e.

If in summer-time you look upwards you will see the haka of Raumati flashing and twinkling in space. That is the origin of the haka of the world.

The following is an old-time haka:

Ka tito au, ka tito au, ka tito au, kia Kupe
Te tangata nana i hoehoe te moana
Tu ke a Kapiti, tu ke Māna, tu ke Aropawa
Ko nga tohu tena a taku tupuna a Kupe
Nana i whakatomene Titapua
Ka toreke ia te whenua—e.

When performing haka the performers always vie with each other as to who shall give the best rendering, and many traditions are extant as to young women being captivated by the grace of movement displayed by men in these dances. For the whare tapere was the place where the young people met together in former times to pass the evening in various amusements, after the labours of the day were over. Elderly people would also be present, and some of them would take part in games or haka. I have seen an old native of seventy unable to resist the fascinations of a haka, and throw off his blanket and join in.

The words of a haka are either sung by all the performers, or, in some cases, the fugleman leads off for a line or two and the others join in as a kind of chorus, as we have shown. The term “haka,” is applied to both the dance and the song which accompanies it. The time for the various motions appears to be taken from the song.

The following haka is one of a type known as a manawa wera, which were sung and danced on the return of an unsuccessful war-party. As the defeated warriors marched into the village home they were met by a band of people, principally women, dressed in old disreputable garments (the sackcloth and ashes of the Maori), who pranced before them and indulged in those violent energetic movements termed “whākapi” or “pikari,” the emitting of most distressing grunts, and the exhibiting of the whites of the eyes. They would

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perform and sing the haka, which, with the above performances, denoted grief for those slain and anger against the hapless who had lost the day and returned alive. Such is the manawa wera, or seared heart.

Te kotiritiri, te kotaratara, o tai, o huki, o hope—e
Whakatitaha rawa te waha o te kupenga ki uta
Kia tairi—a-ha-ha!
Hoki mai, hoki mai—e
Kia kawea koe ki tera whenua
Ki era tangata,
Nana i ki mai
Uhi! Uhi!—e-e

Another class of haka are those repeated while playing certain games, as we shall see anon. Others, again, are juvenile jingles repeated by children for their own amusement. The following are samples of such:—


No wai te waka e rere i waho i te moana
No Kari-momona te wawata tiko tata.


Tikina kotatia te waka o nga tamariki
Kai te hoko titi, kai te hoko tata
E ka poroporo mai hoki
Te poro ki to tehe.


Po kaka, tahuna mai he rama
Kia marama a Pipora tatutatu na
Tĕkĕrĕ! Takere! Takere!

The following are specimens of modern haka. They were composed and sung, with the usual wild gestures, by the Tuhoe Tribe when the Land Commission first sat at Te Whaiti and the long battle commenced for the possession of that land:—

Te tangi mai a te ika nei, a te poraka
Ku-keke-keke a Tuboe ki Te Whaiti!
Kai a Raharuhi te paenga mai o te ure putete
Te huruhuru a e apu ra i te kirikiri tai—e-ha!
Titiro ki runga! titiro ki raro!
Titiro ki te mana motuhake e rere mai nei—e!
Hihi ana mai te pene a te Komihana!
A hihi ana mai! Aue!

In the above Tuhoe compare their descent on Te Whaiti, in order to establish claims by conquest and mana, with the appearance and rapid increase of the frog, which has only of late reached these parts. In the sixth and seventh lines they call upon their old-time serfs to look up and gaze upon the flag of Tuhoeland, across which runs the legend: “Te mana motuhake mo Tuhoe” (The special mana for the Tuhoe Tribe).

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Homai aku kura
Naku ano aku Komihana i tiki
Ki te puna o Poneke heri mai ai
Titiro ki raro! titiro ki runga!
Titiro kia Matariki!
Titiro! Titiro! Titiro!

The Poi.

The poi may be said to be allied to the haka, and is so styled by the natives. The poi dance (so termed) is performed by females. Each performer has a small, light ball made of leaves of the raupo tightly rolled, and having a string attached to it. In times past these poi balls were ornamented by attaching the long hair from the tail of the Maori dog, now extinct. The players hold the string, and, timing each movement to the poi song (rangi poi), twirl the light balls in many directions—now in front of the body, now over the right shoulder, then the left, &c. The players stand in ranks while performing. One of these time songs commences thus:—

Kia rite! kia rite! kia rite!
Kokiri kai waho, &c.

Here the words “kia rite” mean “keep time,” and the players take their time from the words, the movement of the ball changing at the second line. This game has been revived of late years, and was one of the attractions of the Maori meeting at Rotorua at the time of the visit of our Royal guests in June, 1901. We give below some of the old poi time songs as sung or chaunted during the game.

The following was used both as a rangi poi and as an oriori, or lullaby. It was composed by one Hine-i-turama to sing to her child, which same child was in the form of a stone, and which that estimable woman used to nurse and sing to—a by no means uncommon thing among childless native women. It reminds one of the Dutch sooterkin:—

E noho ana ano i tona taumata i Tihei
E papaki kau ana te paihau o te manu
Kei tata mai ki taku taha
E poi ana te tara i raro
Kia riro mai taku ipu kai ra
Ko Te Heuheu, i whakatapua ki te aha te hau tapa
Tikapo au anake e kai nei i te roro o Takeke
Kai atu, whakairihia ki te patanga (pataka)
Kai atu patanga, ko te kai ra i korongatia
Te ngakau ko Tukino
Kia utaina ki te tiwai, e hoe au ki tawhiti
Ki au, i tauhou au ko Whakaari
Ki te puke tapuku Paepae-o-Aotea
Kia takahia atu te moana o Kupe
Ki Whanga-ra ko Matioro
Ka toi au ki Hawaiki, ki te kai ra i rauri (rari) noa mai
Te raweketia e te ringaringa
Me whakatangi te korowhiti ki Tauri-toatoa,

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Kia Te Ngahue, ki Matakawa, kia Te Pori-o-te-rangi
Ko te au ra i nohoia e te takupu o te Whai-a-Paoa
Kia ope noa te kutikuti, kia ope noa te whakairoiro
Hai maru haerenga mo maua ko taku tamaiti poriro.
Mo Tu-wairua, mo paki kau noa mai
E te ngutu o te tangata.
Nau mai hoki ra, e te iwi!
Kia kite koe i te whare whanaunga tamariki
Ka whakaaro-rangi tenei ki Tikirau, kia Te Puta-hou
Kia tawaria taku tua ki te kope rawhiti ki tae iho
Me kore te matarae i Whanga-paraoa
Ko te Wewehi-o-te-rangi
E aki kau ana te tai ki Ahuriri
Ka tika tutuki te koronga ki te Kaha-makau-rau
Kia te hoa a Tiki ko te rawa hoki e Whata
I whakairia ai toku teke mai tutakina na mata kia karapipiti
Ako rawa ake ki te ai a te tui ko te ngutu koikoia
Na kete tahora mo kai toku whaea i riro atu na
I waiho ai hai hikihiki taua ki te ihu o Pauanui
Ko te hapu pararaki to Peha taua te kiri wharauna
Ki te whare ka to poriro au na
I moe atu aku kanohi kia Tukorehu
Ki te hunga nana i takitaki taku mate
Ka ea Waipohue
Kati ra te whakakeke na i te patanga
Huatakitini te hapai o taitaia Maui
Kia tihao atu te tihi ki Tongariro
Kia matotoru, e rua aku ringa
Ki te haramai ki te aitanga a Tuwharetoa
Hai kai—e.

A Rangi Poi.

Poi maru nui, maru roa, whiu noa, ta noa,
Ki te hika tamariki, ki te hika ropa
Te tauwheke kui, te tauwheke koro ki te hika
Ka haruharuatia, ka ewe kuritia
Ka hanga ta te pakeke pirori haere ai
Te mahi a te pakeke ka motu kai te wha
Kai te whakapohanehane tara kai raro
Matoetoe ano te waruhanga e tu nei
Te whakatau iho, te whakatau ake
Kai hea he ara rerenga mai e te poi
Kei Kawhia, kei Marokopa, kei te akau
Kei te tipuranga mai o te poi—e ha!
I kinitia i te tou o te tamariki
Whainga whekiki ki au—e poi e.

A Rangi Poi.

Tenei te poi, tenei te poi
Horohoronga e to ringaringa
Hokohokona ki te tamaiti
Tamaiti rurenga rau, e ha!
Hurua ki raro ki te kăkă
Ka kotamu toku, ka kotamu to Ngaroria
Ka kotamu ki taua tangata
Tahi ano ko te pakuru anake
E hia po e whai atu ai, ka tahuri mai tu Hakaraia
Haere, whakataha te haere
A kura-winiwini tara koa

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Kai hea he ara rerenga mai mou, e te poi
Kai Kawhia, kai Marokopa, kai te akau
Kai te tipuranga mai o te poi—e ha!
Kinitia i te tou o te tamariki
Whainga whekiki ki au
E poi—e!

A Rangi Poi.

Poi marungarunga iho, mararoraro ake
Tupotupou ana ka eke kaipuke hamua
Kei whea he ara rerenga mai mou, e te poi,” &c. (see ante).

A Rangi Poi (composed by Ruinga-rangi).

Poia atu taku poi, wania atu taku poi
Nga pikitanga ki Otairi
Papatairite mai ki Patea
Ka tirotiro ki te One-tapu, taiawhio tonu ki Taupo
Ko Te Rohu, ko Te Rerehau
E whae ma! Kia tika mai te whakaaro ki konei
Mo aku haere ruahine ki kona
He nui tonu mai, he iti taku iti
Ehara i muri nei no tua whakarere
No aku kaumatua i whaia ki Heretaunga
Ko Puoro-rangi, ko Tarapuhi ki rawe ra
Maua taku tara ki te hapai awe
Ki nga whenua tapapa ana i te hiwi ki Horohoro
Ka matau tonu au ki Tarawera, ko Te Hemahema
Ka rere titaha te rere a taku poi
E oma ana i te tai pouri ki Rotorua
Ko Pare-hokotoru, ko Te Apoapo, ko Ngatoro
Kai hea te rae ka hapainga mai,
Kai Tauranga (a) Tupaea
Ko te mea ra e wawatatia e maua ko taku poi
Tiherutia i te wai ki Hauraki, ko Hapai, ko Taraia
Tu tonu mai taua-iti kai Mahurangi
Ko Te Ao-hau, ko Tiaho
Ka taupatupatu te rere a taku poi
Nga ia tuku ki Wai-kato
Ko Potatau, ko Te Paea, ko Matutaera
E taoro nei i te nuku o te whenua
Hai mana mo Aotea-roa, potaea.


Here is another game of the whare tapere of old. The titi-touretua is played by six or more persons, who sit in a circle a little distance apart from each other. Four sticks, some 2 ft. or 2½ ft. in length, are used. These are sometimes quaintly carved. Four of the players have each a stick, held vertically before him in the right hand. In time to the accompanying song they swing these sticks up and down, and, at a certain word in the song, the sticks are thrown to others across the circle and dexterously caught. The sticks are thrown simultaneously, and must not be allowed to strike each other in their flight. Every movement is performed at the proper time, which is given by the song sung by the

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players. One movement is to throw the sticks round the circle of players. At other times, instead of swinging or throwing them, they must be lowered until the lower end rests upon the floor, the song giving the cue for all these different motions. At other times the sticks are thrown across the circle, but always they must be caught by the proper person. It is quite interesting to watch. The players sometimes kneel instead of sitting at this game, and the former is probably the correct attitude.

The following is a ngari titi-touretua, or time-giving song or chaunt, sung by the players of the above game:—

Titi torea
Whakanoho ke te kupu o te karakia
Ko ana titapu hoki te kapu
Ko te ra to hoki ka riakina ki runga
Ka hakahaka ki raro, aue
Ara ra mai tahi, mai rua, mai toru
Mai wha, mai rima, mai ono
Mai whitu, mai waru, mai iwa
Mai ma ngahuru
E ka whakakopa ona perehina
Ki te huruhuru tipua—e
Koi heri, koi hera, maka titi, maka tata
He maka titi he mea
A ka turia te tara o Moetara
Te tara titi touretua.


This game is played with the hands alone. Either two or more persons play at it, the players sitting opposite to each other, and playing the game in pairs. A long series of words or short abrupt sentences is repeated by the players very quickly, and this alone is quite difficult in order to avoid making an error. At each signal-word or remark the hands are quickly moved, each time in a different manner. We give an example of this game below:—

First cry: “Matimati.” (The players here strike the closed hands together.)

Second cry: “Tahi matimati.” (The same action.)

Third cry: “Rua matimati.” (The hands opened, fingers apart, right thumb struck across left.)

Fourth cry: “Toru matimati.” (The right hand clenched and struck on open palm of left hand.)

Fifth cry: “Wha matimati.” The two hands open, brought together and fingers interlocked.)

Sixth cry: “Rima matimati.” (Thumb of right hand struck between first and second fingers of left hand.)

Seventh cry: “Ono matimati.” (Same as first movement.)

Eighth cry: “Whitu matimati.” (Same as No. 3.)

Ninth cry: “Waru matimati.” (Heel of hands struck together.)

Tenth cry: “Iwa matimati.” (Same as No. 1.)

Eleventh cry: “Piro matimati.” (The open right hand struck on back and front of open left hand.)

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The word “piro,” as used in games, means much the same as our word “out” as applied to game-players—Cf. “piroku,” v.i., go out; be extinguished.

The game of ti ringaringa is similar to the above, and is most amusing to watch.

Pakuru, or Pakakau.

This is merely a piece of wood, one end of which is placed between the teeth of the operator; the other is held in the left hand, while in the right is held a smaller stick, which is struck upon the other, and thus time is kept to the special songs sung. The pakuru is made of matai, mapara, or kai-whiria wood. It is about 15 in. in length, about 1½ in. wide at one end, and ¾ in. at the other. It is flat on one side and convex on the other. These were sometimes carved and sometimes plain, or with serrated edges. In former times many persons used to take part in this amusement. We give below two specimens of the rangi pakuru, or songs sung:—

Kiri pakapaka, kiri pakapaka
Kiko kore, kiko kore, kiki
Tau ka riri, ka riri
Tau ka rara, ka rara
Kai patuki, patu kahakaha
Hai kona turei ai tana niho, tana niho
Pakakau, pakakau, tu tahi, tu rua, tu toru,
Tu wha mai na ki to mate o te aitu
Tōtō poro kuri, poro kuri, poro tangata
Poro tokorua nga whakahaukanga
Kiki poro, ki poro, ki poro, ki poro kuri
Toro rororo, turi raukaha, kiki to.

A Rangi Pakuru.

Hara mai ana te riri i raro
I a Muri-whenua, i a Te Mahaia ra
Ehara ra teke pakupaku e ko
Kai te uru, kai te tonga
Kai te rakau pakeke—khi—aue!
Takoru te raho o Te Kete
I te ngaunga iho a ta Taiarorangi—ha!
Kai riri koe ki te waihotanga iho
O te parekura
Ko Maunga-tautari
Te tangata tirotiro mo te aha ra
Mo te hanga ra
E tatari tonu mai te hanga kiki to
Toro rororo, turi raukaha, kiki to.


The karetao, or keretao, known among Nga-puhi Tribe as “toko-raurape,” is a wooden figure in human form, often ornamented with carving, and the face thereof tattooed in the orthodox lines, the lines being blackened by the use of soot of

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the mapara wood, as in the tattooing of the human body. This figure is usually about 18 in. in length; a portion of the timber projects below the legs, in order to serve as a hand-hold. The arms are loose, being merely semi-attached to the figure by means of strings which pass through holes in the shoulders of the figure and are secured to the upper parts of the loose arms. The two strings are fastened together behind the figure. The operator held the figure in one hand by grasping the hand-hold base or projection. In the other he held the cord, which, being pulled taut, caused the arms of the figure to be gripped firmly to the shoulders, and were thus made to assume different positions, both in front or both extended backwards, or one extended in front and one behind. At the same time the arms were made to quiver as in a real haka à la Maori, the movement being imparted thereto by the hand of the operator. A specimen may be seen in the Auckland Museum. We give two oriori karetao, songs chaunted while putting the figure through its paces:—

Kohine, kohine
Tutara koikoi tara ra
Wheterotero koi arai ake
To marutuna, to maru wehi.

The following is an oriori karetao composed by Hokina for a karetao known as “Tukemata-o-rangi”:—

E rua aku mate, he kauwhau pakihore
Whakatau rawa atu te aro mai ki ahau
Pau te whakatau, he tangata rakau mai
Me whakahinga te whare a Pohe, a Uhia
Koinei kahu tai moana
Whakaeke i waho ra, he kahuhu waiarangi
Tapoto ki to ringa, me ko tahuna—e
Hei rakau a tungatunga turanga riri
A te koroua i te ao o te tonga
Hoki mai ki muri ra
Kia hoaia atu te maro o Tawhaki
…. i runga o Te Inaki
Tapuitia mai na taumata—e
…. ka pae roto Te Papuni
Ki te iwi ka ngaro
Na to tupuna ra, nana i oro i te whenua
E tama—e! Tenei ou tupuna kai te morehu noa
A mana e ui mai—e ahu ana ki hea?
Horo te ki atu—he mate ka tuatini no to papa
E moe tonu mai rara roto Waihau
Ma wai e whakaara te mea ka oti atu
E tama—e!

Tokere, or Bones.

These were made of matai or mapara wood, and were used in the same manner as with us, a pair in each hand. The same songs were used for the tokere as for the pakuru.

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Riddles; Guessing Games; Kai, or Panga.

These are simple. A person will take some small object and show it to his companions. He then brings his two hands together and draws both across his mouth. One is then allowed to guess where the object is. It may be in either hand or in the mouth. When one guesses aright he then becomes leader. Or the small object may be between two of his finger-tips, all being pressed together.

Kororohu, or Purorohu, or Porotiti.

This is a small, flat, and thin piece of wood, matai or mapara, about 3 in. long. Some are rounded at the ends, and some left square or brought to a point like a tipcat. Two holes are made near each other in the centre, and an endless string passes through same. By pulling the string in opposite directions the stick is twirled rapidly round in alternate directions, making at the same time a whizzing noise. The bights of the cord are placed over the thumbs of the operator. The following was sung while operating the kororohū:

A Ngari Porotiti (Kororohū).

Ka kukume, ka kukume au
I te tau o taku porotiti
Ki whakaawe ki Rangi-taiki
Ko Te Koha, ko Muru-takaka, ko Te Ahi-kai-ata
Ko te Koroki, ko Poututu, ko Te Au-tahae
Ka hoki mai te tau o taku porotiti
Hu-hu, wheo-wheo!

Purerehua, or Bull-roarer.

A thin, flat piece of matai wood, an elongated oval, 18 in. or more in length. A cord about 4 ft. long is attached to one end, the other end of the cord being fastened to a stick 3 ft. in length, which serves as a handle by which the operator swings the “roarer” round, causing it to make a loud whirring, booming sound. This noise is said to be made by the wairua (spirit) of the operator. A similar belief obtains among certain Australian tribes, who use these bull-roarers at certain rites and initiation ceremonies.


This has also been described to me as the name of a teetotum made from a piece of gourd-rind pared down and having a small sliver of wood stuck in the centre. It was twirled by this stem between the thumb and forefinger.

Whai, or Cat's Cradle.

The principal string game of the whare tapere of yore was the above, known in full as the “whai wawewawe a Maui.” It was a favourite amusement of young people, and the elders

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often took part in it. A great many different patterns obtained, some of them being most intricate and difficult to acquire. One pattern is known as “te waka-o-Tama-rereti,” and when made the following lines were repeated:—

Hoea te waka o Tama-rereti
Ki te take harakeke

Another pattern was termed the “Tiremiremi,” and when formed the parts were worked to and fro (me he tangata e ai ana) to the following words:—

E ai ana hoki, e pare he ana
Te waha o to kotore ki rau o te whenua
Ira to puta, te kainga o te ariki
Aua nene, aua rekareka.

Te whare-o-Takoreke, another design, is supposed to represent a house decorated with carvings, while te whare-totokau represents a plain house. Takoreke, above mentioned, was an ancestor of very remote times. He was the husband of Hine-te-iwaiwa, of immortal fame, she who invented the art of weaving, and who is looked upon as the mother and patroness of the ancient whare pora, or school of weaving.

Other designs in whai are: Te ahi i tunua ai te manawa o Nuku-tau-paroro, te ana o Karanga-hape or te ana i Taupo, te whakahua horopito, pae kohu, te tutira o Maui, te rara matai (represents a tree with branches), tu-nui-a-te-ika, te whare pora, komore, tama-a-roa, tamāhine, mouti, wiwirau, whare-puni, tonga-nui.

This game of whai is said to have been invented by Maui-pae, as well as the string game termed “pa-tokotoko.” The originator of tops is said to have been Maui-mua, while the tekateka is ascribed to Maui-tikitiki. Hence it would appear that the Maui family are well represented in the whare tapere.

Pa Tokotoko.

This is another string game. It is played by two persons. Each is provided with a piece of string with a loop at one end—a running noose. It is held between the thumb and forefinger of the right hand. The players make passes at each other's hands, each endeavouring to snare or catch the extended forefinger of his adversary in the loop of the string. Each player has seated beside him, or her, a female companion, termed the “ruahine.” When a player succeeds in snaring the finger of his opponent he quickly touches the hand of the latter with his own, and then turns and touches the hand of his own ruahine. This act transfers the ha (strength or dexterity) of his opponent to his ruahine, who really holds the skill or cleverness which he may display in

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the game. In regard to the term and office of the ruahine, this is an aping of more serious matters. In olden times a woman was usually employed, under priestly direction, in taking the tapu off a person or house, &c. This woman was termed a “ruahine.”

The taking or abstraction of the dexterity of one's opponent, as above described, is on the same lines of belief as the taking of the hau, or vital life principle of the human body, and thus causing the death of the individual. The ruahine could cure a person suffering from the evil effects of transgression of the laws of tapu, and was an extremely useful sort of person to have in camp.

Musical Instruments.

Several forms of nose and mouth flutes were manufactured in olden times from wood and bone. The former were termed “koauau” and the latter “pu-torino.” Young men or chiefs would amuse themselves of a summer evening by playing on these instruments as the people were assembled in the marae, or plaza, of the village. Chiefs at such a time would probably be seated on the tapurangi, a stage or platform erected in front of the house occupied by a chief. Songs were sung to the sound of these flutes. One such, a rangi pu-torino, is given in “Nga Moteatea,” at page 175.

Other instruments used were the bones and pakuru, already described. The pu-tatara are a sort of trumpet made from a sea-shell. They were sometimes carried by chiefs in olden times, who would use them to summon his people or to announce his approach to a village. The pu-kaea was a long wooden trumpet, about 6 ft. in length; it was used in war to assemble the fighting-men, or to give warning of an enemy's approach. A sort of imitation pu-kaea was made by children from leaves of the native flax wound in a spiral manner.

The pahu, or war-gong, was made by hollowing out a piece of matai wood. The ends, by which it was slung between two uprights on the watch-platform of a fort, were sometimes ornamented with carving. It was struck with a wooden mallet.

Korero Tara.

A favourite amusement during long winter evenings was the repeating of fables, folk-lore, and weird legends, the whole being included under the term of “korero tara,” or “pakiwaitara.” Some of these would be fables of olden times, handed down for centuries by succeeding generations. Such are the fables of the ant and the cicada, that of the lizard and the gurnard, and that concerning the Wai-kato and Rangi-taiki Rivers in their race for the sea; as also the wild legend

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anent the forming of the Whakatane and Wai-mana Valleys, and that describing the weird journey of Maunga-pohatu, Putauaki, and Kakara-mea Mountains from the south. We give a specimen of these fables:—

The Popokorua and the Kihikihi (the Ant and the Cicada).

The ant said to the locust, “Let us be diligent and collect much food during the summer-time, that we may retain life when the cold season comes.” “Not so,” said the locust; “rather let us ascend the trees and bask in the sun, on the warm bark thereof.” So the ant remained on the ground and worked exceeding hard, collecting and storing food for the winter. But the locust said, “This is a fine thing, to bask in the warm sun and enjoy life. How foolish is the ant that toils below.” But when winter arrived and the warmth went out of the sun, then the locust perished of cold and hunger. But the ant, how snug is he in his warm home underground, supplied with an abundance of food.

The Song of the Locust.

He pai aha koia taku pai
He noho noa, piri ake ki te peka o te rakau—e
E inaina noa ake ki te ra e whiti nei
Me te whakatangi kau i aku paihau—e
Hohoro mai, e te hoa,
Kauaka e whakaroa ara ra
Ka turua ta te popokorua
Rawe noa ta nga taki whakahau
Hau mai ki te keri i te rua
Mo te ua o te rangi me te makariri
Wero iho i te po nei—e
Me te kohi mai ano i te kakano—e
Hai o mo tamaroto
Kia ora ai—e.

often stories were improvised at these nightly meetings—simple, old-world tales of a primitive people, tales modelled on ancient prototypes of the past, tales of strange beings in human form who dwelt in lone forest depths and occasionally carried off women from the villages of man, and tales of daring voyagers of old who went down to unknown seas in their frail craft, and saw strange sights and strange people in far-off lands. I have often listened to such stories in the murky sleeping-houses of Tuhoeland.

Children's Games.

Upoko Titi.

This game is played by three or more children. Each player crooks the little finger over the next, that again over the next, and that over the forefinger. Both hands are

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served alike. One player then holds his right hand out with the forefinger pointing downwards. Another player places his right hand in a similar position, the end of the forefinger resting lightly on the back of the other player's hand, and so on, each player so placing his right hand. The first then places his left hand in like manner on the top hand, and so on until each player has both hands in the pile. The child whose hand is uppermost then repeats:—

Te upoko titi, te upoko tata
Ki te wai nui, ki te wai roa.
Whakatangihia te pupu
Haere ki to kainga!

As the reciter repeats the last word he lifts the topmost hand and thrusts it away. The owner of the said hand then holds it with the forefinger against his, or her, breast, and so on until all the players are standing with their hands pointing so to their breasts, the forefinger just touching same. The leader then asks, “Ma wai taku ihu e kai” (Who will eat my nose)? Another will reply, “Ma te atua” (The demon will). The leader repeats, “Waewae nunui, waewae roroa, pokia ki te ahi!” At the last word all the players cast down their hands with a motion as if throwing something down. The leader then asks, “Ma wai taku kanohi e kai?” and receives the same reply, all hands being again thrust downwards. And so on, naming each time some portion of the body, the final question being, “Ma wai taku tinana katoa e kai” (Who will eat my whole body)?


In this game each child closes the thumb and three fingers on the palm of the hand, leaving the forefinger projecting. All hands are then piled on each other as in the upoko titi, except that the forefinger points upwards. Then all the players repeat the following:—

Ka haere, ka haere a Para
Ki te wero kuku, ki te wero kaka
Ka tangi te tara koekoea.

At the last word of the jingle the players all snatch their hands away and place them behind their backs, but as they do so they endeavour to strike or touch the hand of another player. Any player so touched is out of the game.

Hapi Tawa.

Two or more play at this. Child No. 1 places his, or her, open hands together, with the palms pressed against each other and held out in front of the body. Child No. 2 draws

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his hands over those of No. 1—i.e., stroking the back of them towards himself, and repeating this:—

Hukea, hukea,
Te hapi papaku
Ma to kuia
Ma Whare-rau-roa.
Kia hoki mai
I te kohi tawa
Kinikini raupaka
Te hoia to taringa
He hapi kumara
He hapi taro
He hapi kereru
He hapi Koko
He hapi kaka.

Child No. 1 asks, “Na wai koe i tono mai?

Child No. 2 replies, “Na Pitau.”

Child No. 1 asks, “Pitau whea?

Child No. 2 replies, “Pitau toro.”

Child No. 1 asks, “Toro hea?

Child No. 2 replies, “Toro tai.”

Child No. 1 asks, “Tai whea?

Child No. 2 replies, “Tai matua.”

Child No. 1 asks, “Matua wera?

Child No. 2 replies, “I te ahi.”

Child No. 1 asks, “Pi koko?

Child No. 2 asks, “Me aha koia?

Child No. 1 replies either “Me whakaora” or “Me patu.”

Should the first of these replies, meaning “Spare him,” be given by No. 1, he will receive a light box on the ear. Should the second answer, meaning “Strike him,” be given, he will then be spared the blow.

Child No. 2 then takes the hands of No. 1, which are still pressed together, and bends the two thumbs away from the fingers, saying, “He hapi kumara.” He then pushes the two forefingers over against the thumbs, saying, “He hapi taro.” And so on until all the pairs of fingers are pushed over and are thus close together again. No. 1 then opens his hands in cup form, into which No. 2 darts an extended thumb and forefinger, as if hastily picking something out of the hollowed hands. Meanwhile No. 1 tries to catch the hand of No. 2 as it is thus darted. When so caught the game is ended.


In this game a string is used, one end of which is held in the mouth of one of the players, who are seated in double lines facing each other. The string passes down between the two lines, and each player on either side grasps it with both hands, thus the string is hidden from sight. The game lies in guessing where the free end of the string is, and in carefully

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concealing the same. Sometimes the player who holds the end in his mouth will draw in the string until he has it all concealed in his mouth, but the hands of the others are kept in position as though still grasping it. This is baffling to the guesser. The following ngeri, or chaunt, is recited during the game:—

Kura, kura
Kura winiwini, kura wanawana
Te whaia taku kai nei
Ki te kai patiti, ki te kai patata.
Ka rawe taua ki hea?
Ka rawe taua ki pahu nui, ki pahu roa
Hai tako titi, hai tako tata
Haere pakiaka
To reti kai whea.

Tatau Tangata.

The children form in a circle and one repeats the following doggerel. It is repeated in a jerky manner, as shown by the placing of the commas, and at each of the latter the reciter points his forefinger at one of the ring of children, and keeps on thus round the circle. The player at whom he points at the final word falls out, and so on until only one remains, who is said to have won:—

Tokotahi, tokorua, e ka, kurupatu,
Te oia, te kotiti, te kowhewhe, i waiho, i reira,
E whewhe, tikina, toetoea, he karaka,
Hai wero, mo to, iwi, tuarua, taro, pahaha,
Ki runga, i te karaka, toro, pahaha,
Te mea ao, to whaea, koro houa.

Tatai Whetu, or Tatau Manawa.

The following doggerel was repeated by children, the object being to see who could go through it in one breath. But it was also used as a tatai whetu. The latter was a singular act performed in former times in order to kill a frost—i.e., to stop a frost and cause the night to become warm, thus saving the crops. A person would take a firebrand and proceed to the urinal of the settlement, where he would walk round, waving the firebrand so as to light up the ground. Then, throwing the firestick away, he would face to the east and repeat the following two effusions, holding his right arm up, and with index-finger point from one star to another as he kept repeating his jerky lines, as a person does when counting a number of objects:—

Katahi, ka ri, ka wara, ka tikoki,
Manu ki, manu ka toro, kai o, tungongo,
Kai te, koata, raua riki, tara-kaina, e hi,
Tarera, e tika, ra waho, tikina,
Kapohia, te arero, o te rangi,
Wiwi, wawa, heke, heke,
Te manu ki, ki taikeha.

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A Tatai Whetu.

Katahi ti, ka rua ti, ka hara mai, te pati tore,
Ka rauna, ka rauna, ka noho, te kiwikiwi
He po, he wai takitaki, no pi, no pa,
Ka huia, mai, kai ana, te whetu,
Kai ana, te marama,
Ko te tio, e rere, ra runga, ra te pekapeka, kotore,
Wiwi, wawa, heke, heke,
Te manu, ki o, tau, tihe.

Outdoor Games.

Not but what the foregoing games, &c., were not played out-of-doors, but what we propose to deal with now are the special outdoor games, &c.


This is similar to one of our own boys' games. A circle, known as the “wi,” is formed on the ground, and the players stand round it. The base or wi keeper then recites the following tatau tangata in the jerky manner and with the same actions as described above:—

Pika, pika, pere rika,
Papa rangi,
He, hi, rate, mai,
Hau, haunga, te, hati, mai, putu,
Piki, piki.

On repeating the last word of the above the child at whom the reciter's finger then points drops out, and so on until but one is left, who then becomes base-keeper. The children then endeavour to enter the wi, or base, without being touched by the base-keeper, whose business it is to defend it. Should any be touched before entering the wi they must then assist the base-keeper in defending it. Those who succeed in entering the circle without being touched are said to have won. A base-keeper will sometimes pursue players in order to tag them. The term “piro” is applied to those who enter the base untouched (kua piro a mea).


The ancient Maori tops were of two kinds—the potaka ta, or whip-top, and the potaka takiri, or humming-top. As already stated, the top is said to have been invented by Maui.

The whip-top was similar to that used by us in the days of our youth, and was whipped in the same manner, the whip being made from the fibre of the native flax. These tops had sometimes small pieces of sea-shell* inserted, countersunk in the wood, which shells would, of course, form apparent circles

[Footnote] * Either a white shell or the shell of the pāuă (Haliotis, mother of pearl, the abalone of the Californian coast) was used. The whip was termed a “kare.”

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as the top whirled round. Small hurdles were sometimes erected, over which the tops were whipped. The potaka whero rua was a double-ended whip-top, pointed at both ends, and was made to turn ends by means of the whip. Tops were made of matai, mapara, or totara wood. “Kaihōtăa” is given in Williams's dictionary as meaning “a whipping-top,” but that term is not used among Tuhoe.

Some of the humming-tops were made of wood, and were solid like the whip-top.* Both were of the same form, save that the whip-top was flat on the top, while the humming-top had a piece of wood projecting from the top vertically, in order to receive the string. This upright piece would be part of the original piece of timber from which the top was made, and was not an inserted piece. The body of the humming-top was also larger and longer than that of the whip-top, and was a solid piece of wood.

The word “potaka” means a top. “Ta” is to beat, hence the name applied to a whip-top. “Takiri” means “to loosen; to draw away suddenly; to start or fly back, as a spring,” &c. As applied to the humming-top, the word refers to the mode in which the top is set up by the operator.

The string used for the humming-top was a thin, strong cord made from fibre of the native flax, the kind of cord known as “karure,” which is made by twisting together two miro, or twisted threads of fibre. This string is wound round the piece of wood projecting from the head of the top. The handle or hand-hold by which a purchase is gained is a small, flat piece of wood, and is known as the “papa takiri.” It is not slipped over the upright projection of the top as with us, but is held against the side thereof. This papa is about 6 in. in length and ½ in. in width.

In former times children liked to see their tops “asleep” when spun. To describe this state the term “newha,” or “anewhanewha,” or “tunewha” is used. In the following effusion, which is a kai-oraora, composed by one Te Horo in revenge for the death of his son Pohokorua, these terms are evidently used as meaning “dazed by grief.”

A Tangi Kai-oraora.

Pinohia ki te kowhatu
Ka korowhiwhitia ake tona roro
Ote tohunga nana nei au
Koi huna ki te po
Ui mai koia—he aha te rawa?
He manawa whiti, he manawa rere,
He manawa kapakapa
Ka noho kai a te ihu.

[Footnote] * Not that the solid tops hummed much, but I have no other name for them. They were spun as we spin humming-tops. The gourd tops made a loud humming noise.

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Whiti Tuarua.

E kui ma! Kia ata tono mai ki ahau
Kaore raia he iwi tu atu ki runga ra
E taia ana au e te mate
Kai te potaka tu-newhanewha,
Ka taia, ka haere, ka anewhanewha.

Humming-tops were also made of a small hue, or gourd, through which a stick was thrust and both ends thereof left projecting, the lower one to serve as a spinning-point and the upper one to wind the string on. A hole was made at one side of the gourd, which caused a humming, wailing sound when the top was spinning. This was the true humming-top; the name was used by myself to denote the wooden potaka takiri for want of a better term.

These gourd humming-tops entered into a very singular custom among the denizens of Tuhoeland and adjacent peoples. They were used in order to avenge death, in the same manner that the wailing of a lament or dirge, with weeping, was said to avenge the stroke of death. This is a world-old idea, a relic of universal personification of all natural events, &c. As the men of old said, “Ko roimata, ko hupe, anake nga kai utu i nga patu a aitua” (By tears and grief only may the strokes of misfortune be avenged).

Humming-tops were spun that the wailing sound thereof might accompany the lament for the dead chaunted by the people after a defeat in battle. The humming of the tops, of which many were used, resembled and represented the murmuring wail of the mourning widows. Appropriate songs or chaunts, termed “whakaoriori potaka,” were composed for such occasions, and were chaunted as the tops were spinning.

When after they had been defeated in battle a party of people came to condole with them, they all assembled in the plaza of the village to receive them, and there was chaunted the lament for the dead. And as the lament was sung the wailing tops were spun—hai ranaki i te mate—as an avenging of the defeat. The tops were spun at a given word at the conclusion of each whiti, or verse, of the song. After this performance was over the tops, together with presents of clothing, &c., would be handed over to the visitors.

Many of the people would be provided with tops for this performance. This custom was revived after the defeat at Orakau. The following whakaoriori potaka was thus sung in many a native village after the defeat of Ngati-porou and Te Whakatohea on the field of Maketu:—

Kumea! Toi te roroa o te tangata—e
Ina noa te poto ki te oma i Hunuhunu—e
Hai! Tukua!

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Na (nga) morehu, ma te kai e patu—e
Ko te paku kai ra mau, E Te Arawa—E!
Hai! Tukua!
E ki atu ana Karanama, e noho ki tamaiti nei—e
Takiri ana mai te upoko o te toa—e
Hai! Tukua!
Koro Mokena, huri mai ki te Kuini—e
Koi rawerawe ana ou mea kanu kaka—e
Hai! Tukua!
Na Tamehana ano tona whenua i utu
Ki te maramara taro—e
Waiho te raru ki to wahine—e
Hai! Tukua!

At the word “Tukua” all the tops are set spinning. When the tops fall then another verse is commenced, and the tops are wound up again ready for the next signal-word.


Kite-flying was a favourite amusement in the days of old, but, like most other old-time amusements of the Maori, has long been abandoned. Kites were termed “manu,” the same word meaning “bird,” and were made to resemble a bird in form, with long outstretched wings. The best kites were made of the bark of the aute shrub, or paper-mulberry. Inferior ones were made of upoko-tangata, a coarse sedge or swamp-grass, or of the leaves of the raupo, a bulrush. These kites were very neatly made, the material being fastened to a light frame. Long tails or streamers, termed “puhihi,” were suspended from the wings (paihau) and tail (waero) of the kite. Kites made of raupo do not rise well, but sag from side to side. Sometimes shells were attached to the kites, and when flying, should the cord be held, the oscillation would cause the shells to rattle in a manner presumably pleasant to the Maori ear. Shells of the kakahi, or fresh-water mussel, were used for this purpose, evidently on account of their lightness. Adults used to indulge in kite-flying. The kites of children were generally the inferior ones made of raupo.

“In the days of old our people would weave kites, and the wings and body thereof would be covered with aute, hence the name ‘manu aute.’ Horns or points would be fastened to the head of the kite. The cord would be secured by which the kite is let out. When the wind rose the people would go a kite-flying (whakaangi manu), and many would gather to look on. An expert person would be selected to cast off the kite that it might rise, and, if a large kite, he would have to be careful lest the thing swoop down and he be struck by the points thereof. When the kite rose it would soar away like a bird, and the cord would be paid out as it ascended. Then the karakia would be repeated.

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“A Kaiakia Whakaangi Manu (a Kite-flying Charm).

Piki mai, piki mai,
Te mata tihi o te rangi
To mata taha o te rangi
Ko koe, kai whaunumia e koe
Ki te kawe tuawhitu, ki te kawe tuawaru
Tahi to nuku, tahi te rangi
Ko te kawa i hea?
Ko te kawa i Taumata-ruhiruhi
Te takina mai taku manu nei
Ka piki.

“Then a round object, a disc, would be sent up the cord, along which it would travel. It was to take water to the kite, and show that the kite had reached the heavens. And it would reach the kite, although the latter might be so distant as to be out of sight. Then the cord would be drawn in, and finally the kite be recovered. And on being looked at it would be found quite wet. A peculiar wetness this which clings to the kite. It is not like the water which flows here below; it is like dew, or the misty wet which settles upon the high ranges.” A reference to the above messenger sent up the cord of a kite may be noted in Mr. White's Lectures, page 176.

Teka, or Neti.

This was a favourite pastime of olden times, and quite a game of skill. It was Maui-tikitiki who invented the game of teka. He expectorated upon his dart and repeated this charm:—

Taku teka, tau e kai ai he tangata
Haere i tua o nga maunga
Me kai koe ki te tangata
Whiwhia, rawea.

Then Maui threw his dart, which flew apace and stuck in the jaw of an old man who was sitting in the entrance of the house known as Tane-kapua. The old man's jaw dropped off. Maui arriving, said, “Old man, your jaw has dropped off.” The old man nodded. Maui said, “I will take your jawbone with me.” That old man was Muri-ranga-whenua, the grandfather of Maui. That jawbone was the hook by which this land was caught and dragged from the ocean depths. The fish caught with that hook was Papa-tuanuku (Mother Earth) herself. The hook may still be seen at Heretaunga.

But about the teka. It is a dart, usually made of a stalk of the fern rarauhe, about 3 ft. in length, the after-end bound round with a piece of flax. This dart is thrown so as to glance off the surface of a small mound of earth, which is cleared of weeds and made smooth. The thrower stands a little way behind the mound and holds the dart (teka) by the rear end, between thumb and second finger; the forefinger is on the end of the dart, to propel it. The dart was thrown

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underhand, so as to glance off (pahu) the smooth top of the mound. Each player casts his dart in turn, and he whose dart is cast the greatest distance wins the round. When a player wins his first round he cries, “Katahi ki rua.” On gaining his second round he says, “Ka rua ki toru.” At the third, “Ka toru ki wha,” and so on; thus each player keeps his own tally. The first to win ten rounds wins the game. The cry of a player for the ninth round won is, “Ka iwa ki ngahere,” the expression “ngahere” being here used for “ngahuru” (ten). The cry at the tenth round won is “Kapiro.”

Each player, as he proceeds to cast his teka, would repeat the following charm to render his cast effective:—

Patu atu taku pehu ki mua
Me he matakokiri anewa i te rangi
Te rokohina ko te teka na Tuhuruhuru
Kia tika tonu te haere
Mau e piki atu, mau e heke atu
I tua o nga pae maunga
Toroi e taku pehu
Ko te pehu, ko te koke
Marie kia tika.

The Topa, or Koke.

The topa is an amusement of children. A broad, sound leaf of the wharangi shrub is plucked, and into the stem of the midrib (tuaka) thereof is inserted the thick end of a culm of karetu grass. The caster, standing on an eminence, holds the top of the leaf between thumb and two fingers, and on casting the leaf forth horizontally it will sail on for some distance, and even ascend, before descending to the ground. The descent of the leaf is very gradual, it being balanced by the grass culm. A child would repeat the following charm to cause the leaf to make a long flight:—

Topaina atu ra taku topa nei
Ki tai nui, ki tai roa
Koki, kokere, whai
Tohia nuku, tohia rangi
To kai, topa rere
Ki o rua whangai.

These leaves are sometimes thus cast across a river of considerable width.

Pirori (Hoops).

The hoop is an old-time Maori toy. They were made of a tough forest creeper known as aka tea, the join being neatly bound with a lashing of flax-fibre. They were 18 in. or 2 ft. in diameter. Players stood opposite each other on either side of the marae, or plaza, and each held a short stick in his hand. The hoop was not trundled as with us, but was thrown so as

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to roll across to the opposite player, who would strike it with his stick in order to drive it back to No. 1; but he would not follow it up. Should the hoop not run true, but wobble in its passage, that is termed a “tiko-rohe-tu.”

At page 58, vol. v., of White's “Ancient History of the Maori” is an account of how a certain old-time gentleman, having slain a much-hated enemy, did thereupon flay the same and proceed to stretch his skin upon a hoop, with which he, together with other chivalrous warriors of that ilk, amused themselves, after the manner of their kind, by trundling the aforesaid hoop and belabouring it unmercifully with cudgels.

Hoops were sometimes thrown so as to rebound from the earth and jump over high hurdles.


This was a kind of toboggan, and was used on a steep bank or hillside, on which a slide would be prepared and made slippery by pouring water upon it. The reti, or toboggan, was a flat piece of wood about 2½ ft. in length and 4 in. or 5 in. in width, square at the rear end and pointed in front, the nose being also “sniped,” so as not to catch in the ground, and thus leave the “riding side” of the reti free. Two projections were left on the top side for the rider's feet to press against, one foot being placed behind the other. Such was the toboggan, or papa reti. The slide was known as retireti. “Papa reti” is a term applied to an epidemic of sickness wherefrom many die.

Pou-toti, or Stilts.

Stilt-walking was a pastime of the young people. The stilts were often made with foot-rests 3 ft. from the ground. Mimic battles were waged by stilt-walkers, who tried to overthrow each other, the result being numerous and sometimes severe falls.


Another amusement over which Takataka-putea presides is the moari, or morere, a peculiar swing. The Maori had no swing with a seat such as we use. The moari was, if possible, erected over a deep pool in a stream or river, or on the shore of a lake. A tall sapling was set up inclining somewhat over the water. On the top of the pole a loose cap of timber was fitted, to which the ends of long cords or ropes were fastened, the ropes trailing down for the players to swing by. As the players hung on to the ropes and swung round the pole the wooden cap thereon revolved, so that the ropes did not twist round the pole. In the case of those set up over water, the swingers would grasp the ropes with both hands

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and gain momentum by running round the pole on the land side, and then swing off the edge of the bank out over the water, where they would release their hold of the rope and drop feet first into the water below, which same is the Maori form of diving (ruku). This form of diving is done from a height of 40 ft. or 50 ft. sometimes. At some places a running jump is taken from a steep bank into a river or lake, or a pole is secured in a horizontal position over the water, from which the jump is taken. At others, again, a tree growing on a cliff and leaning out over the water is used in a like manner. Such an one is a rata-tree just above the Pari-kino Settlement, on the Whanga-nui River, and from which the jump is some 30 ft. or 40 ft. Some time back a woman was there killed by falling flat on the water, instead of entering the same feet first in the proper manner. It is surprising to see what heights very small children will jump from.

At settlements where water was not available for jumping into, the moari was erected at any suitable place near by, where it was used as a sort of revolving swing. One such formerly stood at the Ngati-tawhaki village of Kiritahi, at Rua-tahuna, and was known as Tama-tē-ngaro. Another stood near Māna-tē-pa, a fortified village on the Mana-o-rongo Creek, near Tatahoata. The latter one was named Tara-kai-korukoru. Each of these swings had eight cords. A singular story is attached to these two swings. When my informant had told me of them, he added, “They were erected in order to avenge those of Ngati-tawhaki who were slain at Mānă-tē-pa.” This caused me to make inquiries, believing that I was about to lift the trail of some quaint, barbarous custom. I had heard of the inter-hapu unpleasantness at that fort, where Te Ure-wera clan had slain three of Ngati-tawhaki, but the swings were new.

“Ngati-tawhaki had fallen before the volley of Te Urewera. Then our assailants migrated to Rua-toki, lest evil befall them. Our people were much troubled over the matter. Then the thought grew: We would avenge that disaster. Tu-kai-rangi, of Tawhaki, rose and caused to be erected those two moari. Tama-tē-ngaro was erected just by the cherry grove yonder, and Tara-kai-korukoru was set up by yon kahika-trees on the terrace. Then a song was composed, to be sung by the performers when swinging. And this should be our revenge for the death of our men at Māna-tā-pa. No! of course, it was not an actual revenge or equivalent for our loss, but it was to dispel the grief and fretting over the death of our friends; hence it was termed an avenging of their deaths—“Hai whakangaro i te rawakiwaki mo nga mea i mate, koia i kiia ai he takitaki mate.” Here is the song. The eight ropes of the moari would be

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manned, and all the performers and onlookers would sing the first verse (whiti). At the last word thereof they would swing off and fly round the pole. When they stopped the second verse would be sung, and the performers swing off again.”

Whiti 1.

Hangaa he moari
Kia rere au i te taura whakawaho*
Kai te pehi hiri whakamau
Na wai takahia.

Whiti 2.

Taku aroha kia Te Haraki—e
Nga whaiaipo a te hiri whakamau
Na wai takahia.

Whiti 3.

He taura ti—e. He taura harakeke
Nga taura o te hiri whakamau
Na wai takahia.

A famous moari used to stand at Kirikiri, on the shore of Waikare-moana.

Pendent aka, or forest creepers, were often used as swings, and from the swing of them the players would gain impetus for a flying trip through the air to Mother Earth. These were termed “tarere,” or “himorimori.” A cross-piece of wood was sometimes lashed on to the aka to serve as a seat.

The kai-rerere, or long jump, was another form of amusement. Te Kai-rerenga-a-te-Rangi-houhiri is the name of a crossing-place of the Whakatane River where, in former times, travellers used to cross by jumping from one stone to another, a feat at which Mr. Rangi-houhiri excelled all others, hence the name.

Piu (Skipping).

A long cord was used, a child being stationed at either end to swing same. Several players would skip at the same time. As the game commenced the cord-swingers would chaunt. “E piu—e! Ka taha te ra ki te rua.”


The term “pioi” was applied to the seesaw, a pole balanced across a log, as our own children play; and also the name was applied to a limber branch, usually of a fallen tree, and which players would bestride and cause to swing up and down.

Concerning the pioi, let me tell you an anecdote. In the days when Ngati-mahanga, of Te Whaiti, they who slew the Drooping Plume and erstwhile went down to Hades before

[Footnote] * The outer cord is the most difficult to manipulate.

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the stabbing spears of Tuhoe—when the Children of Mahanga, I say, were sore beset by the Hine-uru clan of Tarawera they bethought them of applying to their overlord for armed assistance. A band of Tuhoean mountaineers therefore marched to the Wairoa Fort, on the Upper Whirinaki. On their arrival, however, instead of having food presented to them, as is usual in such cases, a great nothingness prevailed, and no refreshments were forthcoming. Then the heart of the Child of Tamatea became sad within him, for Tuhoe, albeit famous warriors—as we ourselves discovered in later times at Orakau and elsewhere—are a most touchy people, and passing rich in dignity and sense of affront. They therefore, with intent and malice aforethought, and doubtless being possessed of the divine afflatus, did proceed to compose a most virulent ngeri, or jeering-song, as a scathing rebuke to their churlish hosts. Hard by the fort of Te Wairoa was a famous pioi, a swinging tree-branch of great length and elasticity. On this branch the Children of the Mist ranged themselves, and, swinging high to the spring of the weighted branch, roared forth their incisive song of derision. After which, their anger and hunger being still unappeased, and possibly annoyed at the “innocuous desuetude” of the Sons of Mahanga, they fell upon them, smiting them hip and thigh, with the result that several of them were soon killed, cooked, and eaten.

The above is not necessarily a form of amusement or pertaining to the whare tapere, nor do I know that Takatakaputea and Co. would countenance such acts. It is merely inserted here as a quiet hint to any luckless wights who may find themselves neglected by their hosts.


Foot-races over long distances were sometimes arranged. A certain place would be agreed upon, where, as soon as one of the runners arrived, he would leave or make some mark, on a tree or elsewhere; and this mark would be pointed out with pride by his descendants. A foot-race of this kind took place from Te Whaiti to Te Teko, a distance of nearly fifty miles.

Sling (Kotaha).

I am informed that slings made of flax-fibre, used for slinging stones in play, were formerly used, and were termed kotaha. I am not clear that they were used prior to the advent of Europeans. The term “kotaha” was also applied to the whip used in casting the spear known as a “tarerarera,” which was so cast into besieged places.

The kakere was an amusement of children, sticking some

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object on a stick and “flirting” it off, to see how far it could thus be cast.

Ripi (Ducks and Drake).

Same as with us, the skimming of flat stones along the surface of water. The name is also applied to the throwing of flat, rounded pieces of bark upwards. This would be done near a tree, to enable the children to see which player flung the highest.

Bow and Arrow.

The Maori of New Zealand are true Polynesians in their non-use of the bow and arrow. It was never used by the Maori in war. Some natives here assert that the bow and arrow were used as toys in olden days, but I have met with nothing in tradition or song to support the assertion. The word given me for “arrow” is “kopere,” a term applied to the sling or whip by which spears are thrown.* The term given me for “bow” is “whana,” which would be applied to anything curved or bow-shaped. I am told that a bow of supplejack was used by children, with an arrow made of a fernstalk, the rear end of which was bound with string, and the head was furnished with a point of katote, the hard black fibres of the kaponga, or fern-tree. It is said to have been used for killing birds. Personally I have no faith in the bow and arrow being used in pre-pakeha days.

In the first place, the games and toys, implements, weapons, &c., that were used in ancient times are mentioned in many historical traditions, legends, stories, songs, &c. In none of these have I ever noted any allusion to the bow and arrow. Certainly the term “pere,” meaning “a dart,” is met with, but it refers to the spear thrown with a whip. Other tribes may have had some knowledge of the implement in former times, but I do not believe that Tuhoe had. In the second place, many European words, implements, foods, and arts reached the remote inland tribes long before such peoples were brought into contact with white men. Hence they often assert that some art, or vegetable, or English expression was known before the arrival of Europeans, whereas it was not, but filtered through other tribes before Europeans were known in the interior.

Taupunipuni was a game like our “hide and seek,” played by children.

Poro-teteke was a boy's amusement of walking on the hands with feet in the air.

It is most amusing to note small children playing—the peculiar things they do and say. You may see two mites

[Footnote] * Probably also to the spear so thrown.

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sitting gravely opposite each other, each one trying to make the other laugh. One will take the other by the hand and then draw its other hand down the arm, repeating, “Pakipaki te whatitiri, No—e ! No—e !” until one of them is fain to laugh.

I have heard children repeating the genealogies of the village dogs in true orthodox style, learned while listening to the recital of tribal genealogies in the sleeping-houses.

Small girls will play at imitating the labours of their mothers, and will make little steam-ovens and collect and earth over potatoes in true koputu style, or carry appalling swags of firewood weighing several pounds.


The para-whakawai may be termed a “school of arms.” It is applied to meetings of young men on the plaza of the village for the purpose of acquiring and practising the use of weapons, such practising being known as whakahorohoro rakau.” Such practice, or trial of arms, is carried on under the eyes of veteran warriors, who are known as “Ika-a-whiro.” Here the young Maori learned to use the arms of old—to guard, parry, thrust, and strike. Wrestling was also indulged in, and women used sometimes to join in this—probably two women opposed to one man. Some of the women were famous wrestlers.

Whatoto (Wrestling).

This was a common amusement among young men, and much interest was displayed when two noted wrestlers were pitted against each other. My notes under this head are, however, meagre in the extreme. The various holds or grips were termed “awhiawhi,” “uru-tomo,” “tăhă,” “whiri,” and “whiu.” The rou was the thrusting of the leg between those of the opponent in order to throw him.

When a man was about to engage in a wrestling bout he would expectorate into his hand, which he would then close and repeat the following charm (karakia) to strengthen him:—

Taku uaua ko te rangi e tu nei
Taku uaua ko papa e takoto nei
Whiri kaha, toro kaha te uaua.

Then, opening his hand, he repeats a second charm to weaken his enemy and render him powerless:—

Te umu a te ruhi, a te ngenge
A te paro (?) a tineia kia mate
Te umu tuku tonu te ika ki te Po
Te umu tuku tonu, heke tonu te ika ki te Reinga
Ka mui te rango, totoro te iro
Kaki whatiia.

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This latter charm or spell is known as “tuaumu,” and belongs to the art of makutu, or witchcraft.

The Game of Ruru.

In this game five stones are used. They are round (potakataka) and symmetrical; often they were chipped into the desired form by means of striking them with a piece of quartz, as flakes are struck off a flint core. Old men often amused themselves by making them, as well as other toys, &c., as playthings for children, and even for elders, inasmuch as the elderly people often entered into this and other games. of these stones one was marked and styled the “hai”; it was the principal one used for throwing, and was looked upon as the leader of the game. The other four stones were termed the “kai-mahi,” or common ones.

As many as ten players would sometimes take part in this game. First the operator would take the five stones in his right hand and throw them up; then quickly reversing his hand he would catch on the back of it as many as possible of the descending stones. Some will thus be caught and some will tall on the ground, where they are allowed to lie for the present. The hai is then taken in the right hand and thrown up. While it is in the air the player snatches up one of the fallen stones with the right hand and, holding it, catches the descending hai with the same hand. This is continued until all the fallen stones are picked up. This is termed “takitahi.”

In the takirua the same process is gone through, save that two of the stones are snatched up at once.

In the taktoru, or third stage, it is the same process again, but three stones must be snatched up before catching the hai.

And in the takiwha four stones must be so snatched up. The next stage in the game is termed “poipoi.” In this a mark is made on the ground—a straight line—on either side of which one stone is laid, these two and the hai being the only ones used. The hai is taken in the right hand and thrown up; then with the same hand one of the stones by the mark—the one on the right side—is taken and thrown up; then the descending hai is caught and thrown up again with the right hand; then the other descending stone is caught with the left hand and thrown up again. The remaining stone on the ground is thrown up by the left hand and caught with the right, and so on.

The next act is termed “kŏrŏpu.” A small circle is marked on the ground, around the outside of which are ranged the hai and three of the other stones. The hai is taken in the right hand and thrown up, and before it descends the same hand must move the other three stones into the centre

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of the circle, where they must be arranged so as to touch each other; the right hand then darts back to catch the descending hai, which it again throws up, and the right hand snatches up the three stones on the ground and then catches among them the descending hai, thus the right hand now holds all four stones. All motions of the koropu are performed by the right hand.

The final performance is the ruru. Three stones are laid on the ground; the hai is thrown up, then another stone is snatched and thrown up, then the descending hai is caught and thrown up again, then another stone is clutched from the ground and cast up, then the second stone is caught and thrown up again, then the hai, and so on until all the four are in use. But the hai must always be caught in the right hand and the other stones in the left.

When the common stones are lying on the ground together they touch each other, and the operator must be very careful in taking one away to throw up, for if he causes the other stone or stones to move in so doing, then he falls out of the game and another operator takes his place. It is quite a trial for the eye and hand to watch the descending stones so as not to miss catching same, and at the same time to take up one of the stones on the ground without causing any of the others which are in contact with it to move.

“When other villages hear that we are adepts at this game they will send a party over to challenge us to a game, and then interest runs high. Young men would always be eager to excel in games of all kinds, because they would then be admired by the girls.”

The term “rehia,” mentioned above, is now practically obsolete, and must be sought for in song and tradition. It is met with in Mr. White's volumes, and also occurs in the following:—

A Lament composed by Te Hou (Part only).

Ka riro i aku tamariki
Kai te rehia, kai te harakoa kari hika
Ko au anake i mahue uei
Hai tiaki pa ki Hiwarau ra
He kebo koia e te ngutu poto
E whakaheke ra e te oi kau
Kei parea ki O-tarana
Kei mapu noa mai e tohe.

The seeker after the lore of the whare tapere will find some notes on the subject in the Rev. R. Taylor's “Te Ika a Maui.”

Kati.—We will now cease, inasmuch as we have exhausted our stock of notes anent the diversions of the whare tapere, as obtained from the denizens of Tuhoeland. It remains for the compilers of the future to pick up the broken threads and

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evolve a more complete description of the games and amusements of old.
* * * * *

The gleaming row of fires within the whare tapere have burned low down, the Children of Toi have dispersed, as we pass out again into the morn of the twentieth century, while the sliding-door closes behind us on the whare tapere for ever.