Hei tama tū tama

Tagged with:

  • Physical activity
  • Movement concepts and motor skills
  • Hauora
  • Years 1–4
  • Years 5–8

Play Hei tama tū tama!

Exploring te ao kori — Activity collections

This resource is part of a series within the Exploring te ao kori activity collections called Tākaro ā-ringa | Hand games.

Read background information View all Tākaro ā-ringa | Hand games activities View Te ao kori collections
Small children singing and doing actions.

Intended outcomes


  • play hei tama tū tama and identify what made the experience enjoyable
  • apply rules to tākaro ā-ringa, and demonstrate safe and fair play practices
  • identify and compare ways that playing tākaro ā-ringa competitively can affect friendships.

Suggested approach

Hei tama tū tama, like many early games, encourages mental dexterity. Although winning is important, it is the way in which competitors win that is the focus. The cheeky cajoling, the smile and grimace to put your opponent off are all part of the game. This is part of ako; games are always supportive.

Hei tama tū tama is played using the upper body, arms, and hands, ensuring a balanced position. 


  • Hands on hips.
  • Both forearms raised, fists clenched, and elbows to the side.
  • Right forearm raised with clenched fist, left hand on hip
  • Left forearm raised with clenched fist, right hand on hip.


  • The defender begins the game by calling "Hei tama tū tama" and places their hands in one of the four positions described above.
  • The challenger replies with "Hei tama tū tama" and does a different action.
  • When one player catches the other doing the same action, that player calls "Hei tama tū tama rā!" and scores a point.
  • The winner of the point then restarts the set by saying, "Tahi. Hei tama tū tama", and play continues until a player is caught out again.
  • Each time a player scores a point, they restart the set by saying the number of points they now have followed by "Hei tama tū tama."
  • The game continues until one player reaches ten points – this completes the set.

Two young people demonstrating how to play hei tama tū tama

Two young people demonstrating how to play hei tama tū tama


A girl and a boy stand facing each other. The boy says “Hei tama tū tama” and they choose a position almost simultaneously. The game is quick. The boys says “Hei tama tū tama”, and they choose positions, 12 times in the following 15 seconds. The boy points at the girl and says “ra!” when he wins. They both laugh.

Level 2

Ākonga play hei tama tū tama in pairs, then form teams of four and play the game as a round robin. Winners will be established within the group and the group will continue the games to determine rankings – one, two, three, or four.

The class then splits into new groups, based on their rankings of ones, twos, threes, and fours, and play the game as a round robin again. The class will decide at what stage their games will end; for example, with a group winner or a class winner.

In their second set of groups, ākonga discuss and determine tactics and dynamics of the game, what it takes to win, what it takes to outsmart an opponent, how they feel when they win and/or lose.