A powhiri is a song or dance that
expresses a welcome and may be accompanied by speeches. It is used
to greet visitors, mainly on the marae, but the ceremony can be held on
any important occasion. The powhiri is usually performed by women
but may be accompanied by a ceremonial challenge from a warrior.
The powhiri differs from action songs in that any hand actions only express
a welcome and do not indicate the meaning of the song.
There are two main types of poi, the
long one and the short poi. Both are used in kapa haka performances.
The long poi is mainly used for spinning movements and actions. The
short poi was used for flicking, catching and slapping movements to mark
a rhythm of a song.
The poi was used in the old days
to help strengthen the warriors wrists for battle.
In our days the poi is used almost
exclusively by women and girls. A lot of poi dances begin with an
introductory chorus to establish the rhythm and speed.
To make a poi you need red, white
and black wool, sellotape, batting and plastic supermarket bags and scissors.
The poi is made by tying lengths of wool around some batting and wrapping
it into a ball shape inside a plastic bag. It is about a size of
a big orange. The bag is smoothed and tied at the base and the lengths
of the wool are plaited into a handle.