Poi e! (A poi making tutorial)

Recently I was in Taranaki and drove through Patea, famous for the Patea Maori Club and their 1984 NZ Number one hit “Poi e”.  An excellent background to the song by Ngoi Pewhairangi and Dalvanius Prime is given here.  Sabina has always loved this song, and early on nearly drove us all, including her kaiako at kohanga, mad with her constant obsession with Poi e.  Poi e was on repeat in my car for many months.  Later, to Sabina’s delight we located it here on YouTube and Sabina happily watches it many times over, swinging her Poi and occasionally singing along.

I filmed Sabina swinging her poi to Poi e but I’m now terrified of copyright law so I won’t publish it.  But I will publish my poi making tuturial:


  • Wool
  • Fabric (enough for 2x dinner plate circles)
  • Plastic bag (not necessary but makes for a good noisy poi)
  • Newspaper (or foam if you want to make a soft poi – another tutorial to follow for soft poi)
  • Willing participant to help you make the 4-plait rope or view my  [SOLO PLAITING VIDEO TUTORIAL]
Select some wool leftovers to make your rope. You are making a 4 plait/braid poi, so 2 colours are ideal.

Decide how long you want your poi, double it and layer up a few lengths of wool for each colour. Fold in two.

Make a tassle for the end. Fold some short lengths of wool together, then fold around the top of your other 2 strand bunches.

With another piece of wool, tie off the tassle. This is securing one end of your rope too.

Trim your tassle. Isn't that nice?

Now get your strands ready and get a partner to help you. You will have to watch my movie demo below to see how to complete the 4-plait.

Little clip showing how to make the 4-plait:

With a Partner

And by yourself

Ropes all ready to add newspaper or foam balls to their rough ends.

Take half a sheet of newspaper (or one sheet of small community newspaper) and twist it up, then tie the rough rope ends around its midde. Then ball it up, like a .. um, ball.

Add another sheet of newspaper to flesh out your ball. It should be looking pretty ballsy by now.

Using a dinner plate template, cut out some plastic bag to form a circle to twist around your ball.

Wrap the plastic around the newspaper ball, then tie up with wool around the rope.

DItto with fabric. Using a dinner plate template cut out fabric circles.

Wrap fabric around the plastic wrapped ball and tie off with wool at the rope end.

Trim the fabric neatly around the rope. That is the end, now repeat with your second poi.

Hmm, I guess I should have photographed the finished poi, but Im sure you get the picture.


NOTE – September 2011 – Here are some new poi I have been making with dacron inner.  I will post up a revised tutorial soon, with instructions on how to do the 4 plait on your own to get a spiral effect in the rope.  https://domesticscene.wordpress.com/2011/09/12/new-poi-e/

20 thoughts on “Poi e! (A poi making tutorial)

  1. Video your kohanga kids using them, with Poi E playing in the background! What sort of heartless swine would sue a kohanga for copyright infringement?

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  4. oh ,
    dont even know how to make a poi myself.
    It was an awesome tutorial, not much information though (sort that take out.)

    • Kiaora! I have another tutorial in draft form which goes through the steps much more clearly, i’ll post it up soon. Also now I have learnt how to weave the 4 plait on my own (ie without a helper) so I will post that up too. Thanks for visiting 🙂

  5. Kia ora! Thank you for posting this, I am going to show this to my class (LA17) so they can make their own poi. 🙂

  6. I want to make these poi with my class. If I want the rope to finish up about 20cm long, how long should the wool be to start with? Thanks 🙂

  7. Thank you so much for the tutorial! I am a Kiwi living in South Korea and I am teaching my Primary School kids all about NZ, and one of the days we are making a poi! This made my life in prep so much easier!

  8. Kia ora I have been making poi’s recently now and I still don’t understand how to make the last bit with the really big woolen part at the end of the poi strands could you please help me out with that part because I really want that on the end of my poi my mum knows how to make them but I can’t be bothered asking her to make any more poi’s for me could yo please help me out

    • Kiaor Keani, the trick is to make the tassle part FIRST – you cut up the wool and fold the plait/ braid part over it, then secure it together with more wool. You should be able to see this if you watch my youtube videos. Good luck! Mothers are awesome 🙂

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