E ara ra e kui mā e koro mā
ki te whiu o te rangi
a tāku poi
ki te ao nei e
For many centuries, the poi has been an exciting and dynamic feature of Māori performing arts. As an extension of the performer, the poi conveys a myriad of poetic meanings through the interaction of movement, gesture, and emotion.
Poi also feature in important ceremonial occasions for iwi (tribal groups), such as the opening of wharenui (meeting houses) and the launching of waka (canoes). Certain poi traditions also herald the rising of the star constellation, Matariki, for the Māori New Year.
The skill and innovation of Māori weaving can be appreciated through many the many different kinds of poi. As the initiator of the poi celebration at Te Papa, master weaver Erenora Puketapu-Hetet (Te Atiawa) says:
'As weavers we all have the ability to encourage the revival process by stirring the memories of the wide variety of materials unique to our own tribal areas. We can encourage reaching back into the past and bringing forward the knowledge that resides within our elders. To stir and awaken the identity of the poi to the world is a commitment being made by many this year as a way of celebrating Matariki'.