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Mū tōrere: A Brief History of the Traditional Maori Board Game

Mū tōrere

Mū tōrere is a traditional board game that has been enjoyed by the Maori people of New Zealand for generations. It is a strategic game that requires players to outmaneuver their opponents by moving their game pieces around the board while trying to capture their opponent’s pieces. In this article, we will explore the history of the game and its cultural significance.

Origins of Mū tōrere

Mū tōrere board game history is believed to have originated in the eastern part of the North Island of New Zealand. The game was traditionally played on a board carved into the ground, with pieces made from natural materials such as pebbles or shells. The rules of the game were passed down orally from generation to generation, ensuring that the game was kept alive and thriving within the Maori community.

Cultural Significance

Mū tōrere has significant cultural and historical importance within Maori culture. The game was often played during social gatherings and was used to settle disputes between individuals or groups. It was also played by Maori warriors to hone their strategic skills and to prepare for battle.

In addition, it was also seen as a way to connect with the spiritual world. Maori legend states that the game was gifted to the Maori people by the gods and was used as a way to communicate with them. It was believed that the movement of the game pieces on the board represented the movement of the stars and planets in the sky.


Mū tōrere is more than just a board game. It’s a cultural artifact that represents the rich history and traditions of the Maori people. Its strategic gameplay, combined with its cultural significance, has ensured that the game remains an important part of Maori culture. By preserving and promoting this culture, we can honour the past while also celebrating the future.

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