Ngā mahi poi — Activity collectionPoi activities

Tagged with:

  • Physical activity
  • Movement concepts and motor skills
  • Hauora
  • Attitudes and values
  • Years 5–8
  • Years 9–10
  • Years 11–13

Learn about he poi roa, tapatahi (single long poi) and hē kanikani mā te poi (poi choreography), and the whakapapa and tikanga of poi.

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Girls performing with poi.

Include hapū, iwi, and mana whenua

Techniques, tikanga, and popular waiata for poi vary between hapū and iwi. Acknowledging mana whenua and tikanga in your area can begin with conversations and partnerships with ākonga and whānau who bring expertise to the classroom. If you have no Māori whānau, or hapū or iwi connections, within your school, seek introductions to Māori communities through Kāhui ako/school networks, or talk to the strategic advisor Māori at your regional Ministry of Education office.


Long, long ago before time began there was no light in the world, only darkness all around. This was the time of Io the creator, the guardian of the world.

In the quiet of the dark lay Ranginui, the Sky Father holding the Earth Mother, Papatūānuku, tightly in his arms. Crushed between them in the darkness were their children, all longing for light, space and freedom.

One of the children was Tāne Mahuta, the guardian and father of the forests. Tāne was big and strong. At last he could bear to be crowded no longer and Tāne rose up between his parents and used his great strength to separate them. He thrust Ranginui high, high above Papatūānuku – making sky and earth. Light and air filled the great space between them.

Tāne Mahuta became the father of a great whānau. Two of his children were Harakeke the flax, child of Pakoti and Raupō, the native bulrush, who was the child of Repo the swamp. Together, Harakeke and Raupō created Poi.

And that is, how the first poi was made from the strong leaves of the harakeke flax wrapped tenderly around the soft down of the native bulrush. Today the poi is made of materials of our time, but the story of the poi and its beauty and grace still lives on.

Copyright © The National Heart Foundation of New Zealand 1998.


The poi is practiced by both men and women. Poi encourages the wrists to become supple, increases dexterity in both arms and also improves agility. Traditionally, such skills were useful when using all Māori weaponry including the taiaha. The poi was a common pastime and is actively practiced today, especially as part of competitive kapa haka performances.

Te reo Māori vocabulary

  • Rere atu – fly away
  • Rere mai – fly to me
  • Rere runga – fly above
  • Rere raro – fly below
  • Poi kia mau – poi get ready
  • Poipoitia – poi whirl and slap (as in spin and slap on your hand)
  • Poi ki raro – poi stop and by your side
  • Poi porotiti – poi spin
  • Poi tapatapa – poi slap, slap (as in a rhythm or beat)