Written by Kingi Ihaka in 1981



1 Pukeko: type of bird found in NZ, known as a NZ Swamp hen (seen in the photo above)
2 Ponga: giant fern tree that grows in NZ
3 Kumera: a yellow sweet potato with a purple inside core
4 Piupiu: a skirt or kilt made from strips of flax. They look like hula skirts. They're worn by the Maori (indigenous people of NZ) during certain traditional dances and special celebrations
5 Haka: war songs traditionaly sung before charging
6 Pipi: clam, small shellfish
7 Puha: a type of sow thistle that is eaten as a vegetable in NZ
8 Pois: Maori word for ball – they're two balls on the end of two ropes and they're twirled around making patterns during some Maori dances
9 Huhu grubs: a small edible grub or beetle found in NZ, it's a delicacy of the Maori

Note about the words "piupius", "pipis" and "pois": Normally you don't find the letter "s" in the Maori language. But this song being English uses it to indicate plurals. [Source: The Wondering Albatross.]

Photo of a Pukeko

A Pukeko in a Ponga Tree - (The 12 Days of Christmas) - New Zealand and Maori Children's Songs - New Zealand - Mama Lisa's World: Children's Songs and Rhymes from Around the World  - Comment After Song Image

Thanks and Acknowledgements

Many thanks to John Archer of New Zealand Folk Song for contributing this song and to Maori Art for permission to use their photo of a pukeko.

Ka pai!