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History of Poi

A Brief History of Poi


Poi originates from the indigenous Maori people of New Zealand, the word 'Poi' simply means ball. For over a thousand years Maori women have danced the Maori Poi, a dance with balls attached to strings, swung rhythmically to keep there hands flexible for weaving.

The main occupation for women in early Maori tribes was to bring up children and weave fibres into clothing. In their spare time, the women would create Poi by twisting flax leaves together for the cords and adding a weighted end. The ball weight was formed of Raupo (a wetland plant commonly known as bulrush) and cornhusks wound around a core pith, the ball and cord were then joined together.

Maori men used Poi to increase flexibility and strength in their hands and arms, to improve the balance, dexterity and co-ordination required during battle.

The ancient forms of Maori Poi have evolved to date and distinct variations on the original theme are varied and plentiful. Designs such as Fire Poi, Tailed Poi, and L.E.D Poi to mention but a few are mesmerising to watch and a skilful art to spin. These different designs of Poi are made from all manner of materials including aluminium, rip-stop nylon, cotton, Kevlar and many more.