For many centuries, poi have been an exciting and dynamic feature of Māori performing arts.
E ara ra e kui mā e koro mā
ki te whiu o te rangi
a tāku poi
ki te ao nei e
As an extension of the performer, poi convey a myriad of poetic meanings through the interaction of movement, gesture, and emotion.
Poi also feature in important ceremonial occasions for iwiiwi tribes, such as the opening of wharenuiwharenui meeting houses and the launching of wakawaka canoes. Certain poi traditions also herald the rising of the star constellation Matariki for the Māori New Year.
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.
Master weaver Erenora Puketapu-Hetet (Te Atiawa)
Poi (kinetic percussion instrument), Taranaki, maker unknown. Te Papa (ME004097)