MAORI STRING GAMES (Evening Post, 16 July 1919)

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maori string games an ancient pastime an interesting paper on maori string games was given by mr johannes c andersen at a meeting of the historical section of the wellington philosophical society last night string games as v maori pastime he said were much more widely known in pre-european times than at the present day the origin was in myth accredited to ma-ui one of the old heroes demigods or personifications so well loved by uncultured man and hence the pastime was sometimes called after his name maui or in full te whai wawewawe a maui ihe forming of the many varied patterns provided amusement during the long winter nights and in former times the game was practised by young and old the more intricate patterns were taught to the children by the elders the simpler ones they learned from one another among older new zealand writers dieffenbach the eev taylor thomson and white referred to the game and named a few of the patterns but gave no description as to how they were produced the different forms were said to represent scenes in mythology such as hineriui-te-po mother night bringing forth her progeny maru and the gods maui fishing up the land tawhaki ascending to the heavens the fall of karihi and so on other shapes represented men canoes stars houses parts of houses and so on most of the figuree were set up by one person some required two three or more to set up the completed figure some ran in series one figure proceeding from another 6omewhat as m the pakeha game of cat cradle there were appropriate chants accompanying the making of some of the figures some of them of such an age that whilst the words were known the meaning of the words had been lost and they were as meaningless to the present race as were many nursery rhymes the names of nearly seventy figures had been collected by mr elsdon best and while the huia aioha a maori gathering was held outside gisborno in april last the opportunity afforded by the unique gathering was taken by the government of securing photographs and other material among other material a few of their string games were leaxned and their methods of construction were shown and the patterns compared with similar patterns produced in other parts of the world it was impossible to say now which of the maori patterns were original and which if any had been introduced but when as was the caee in two of the patterns he exhibited the same result was obtained in different parts of the world by quite different means it was reasonable to suppose that the origins had been independent some of the patterns were very beautiful some were produced not for their beauty but for a certain movement at the finish whilst an interesting study in themselves they were also interesting from an ethnologica point of view as snowing parallel working of the human mind in remote regions by which he meant that given certain material to work on different minds would arrive at the same or a like result though the intermediate steps might be quite different mr andereen gave many illustrations of string games and kept the gathering thoroughly interested


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