Poi Toa - Taonga Tākaro (Traditional Māori Game)

Game Whakapapa/Atuatanga

Traditionally skills developed while practising Poi Toa based activities were essential training in learning weaponry and fighting techniques.

Poi whakapapa:

The Poi has its own whakapapa, which can be traced to Tānemahuta, the ancestral god of the forests and all things living in it. Tānemahuta mated with Hineiterepo (the swamp maiden) and they produced raupō (bulrush). Tānemahuta also mated with Pakoti (Pakoki) and created a superior species of harakeke (flax). Raupō and harakeke are the main traditional sources for making Poi which are used in the game Poi Toa.

*(information sourced  from Ngā Taonga Tākaro Māori Sports and Games written by Harko Brown)

**(information sourced  from  http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/waiata-tawhito-traditional-maori-songs/page-2

Game description

Poi Toa is the umbrella term used to describe any Tākaro where Poi Toa were utilised. Poi Toa were used by men to develop a range of skills as well as strength and conditioning needed for weaponry such as taiaha and patu. Typically Poi Toa were made from harakeke (flax) and raupo (bullrush), sometimes they were filled with rocks and thrown at Toa who would practice evading them.

NOTE: There is a different tikanga (value) around the use of Poi Toa. These Poi are designed to throw, pass, or kick. For safety reasons please use Poi Toa in a safe manner to avoid injury. 

Also, these should not be confused or used the same as performance Poi for example which are used in Kapa Haka. Each has its own place as well as tikanga attached.

Number of players required

2 players minimum

Space required

Indoor/outdoor game

Game benefits

 Improve skills around coordination, spinning, passing and handling of the Poi Toa and keeping the Poi in motion.  

Equipment required

Poi Toa

Bibs or rippah tags for team I.D



Poi Toa must remain in motion

No throwing the spinning Poi Toa to deliberately hit your opponent above the waist 

Can have multiple variations

Always be conscious of the force used when throwing the Poi Toa to or at others


As said earlier Poi Toa is the umbrella term used to describe any game where a Poi Toa is used. The following activities can be used as warm up games:

Basic passing: Passing of a spinning Poi between two or more players, catching by the Aho (rope part of the Poi).

Evasive (Dodging): one person in the middle of the circle, that person has to dodge the swinging Poi being thrown at them. If the person in the middle catches the Poi by the Aho (the tail of the Poi) without it touching the ground they change places with the thrower of the Poi and so on.


Follow Us


Contact R2R

Do you want to know anything about Maori games, fitness or health?

Type in your details below and we'll get back to you ASAP!

* means required information.

Please let us know your name.

Please let us know your email address.

Please let us know your message.

R2R is Part of Kokiri Marae