Session note Session notes

Session notes for Ngā mahi a rēhia Stages: 13 to 18 months


‘Ngā mahi a rēhia’ is the term used for games and pastimes. With the whānau, read Whakatipu booklet Te Pihinga 3, ‘Kaitiaki pēpi’ (page 19). It explains the legends and use of games in traditional Māori culture.

Ngā mahi a rēhia included the art of pūrākau, playing taonga puoro, waiata, haka, poi, kōrero and tākaro. It also included aquatic games, activities requiring manual dexterity, agility, calculation, mental alertness and memorising.

Some pastimes were specifically for children and some were elementary training exercises for boys.

Benefits of playing games

Pūrākau and waiata are rich in traditional knowledge, history and tribal wisdom, and haka, poi and musical instruments enhance physical and mental development. Hākinakina were sports and games enjoyed by both children and adults, male and female. Children gained physical skills and knowledge of tribal traditions through them.

Ask the whānau:

  • How does ngā mahi a rēhia feature in your whānau life?
  • What sorts of games or activities have you enjoyed or been involved in?
  • What traditional games do you know of or have taken part in?
  • Do you have hopes that pēpi will enjoy certain games?
  • Which ones?

Past and present toys and games

Traditional toys were made from natural resources. For example, harakeke and raupō were used to make gliders and small waka. Whai (string games), karetao (puppets) and tī ringaringa (hand games) all helped tamariki develop hand–eye coordination and manual dexterity.

A few of the pastimes common in pre-European times that have survived into the present day include tree-climbing, water games and exercises, swimming races (kau whakataetae), canoe races (waka hoehoe), diving, hand games (tī ringaringa and matimati) and cat’s cradle (whai).

Ask the whānau:

  • Why do you think that games and pastimes are important for the way we learn and develop?
  • What do you think we might learn through music, singing and dance?
  • How do you think enjoyment influences our learning?
  • What’s an activity that your pēpi likes to do now?
  • What do you think they are learning from it?
  • At this stage, what games could pēpi play that involve natural resources?

How does this relate to the SKIP resources?

Baby Wall Frieze – Homai ngā mea hei tākaro māku - give me things to play with

Six things children need - Te tūāpapa mō te tika me te hē - limits and boundaries 


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