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Well, here in New Zealand Summer has just come into full swing… BBQ’s, long sunny days, Christmas at the beach… I just discovered a Maori version of the traditional “Twelve Days of Christmas” and Gaby thought it would be a good idea to share it with you.

The Maori version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is called “A Pukeko in a Ponga Tree.” Here’s the annotated version of “A Pukeko in a Ponga Tree.” The Moari definitions are provided at the end of the song.

A Pukeko in a Ponga Tree
(Sing to the tune of The 12 Days of Christmas)

On the first day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
A pukeko in a ponga tree

On the second day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Two kumera
And a pukeko in a ponga tree

On the third day of Christmas…

and so on, until…

On the twelfth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Twelve piupius swinging
Eleven haka lessons
Ten juicy fish heads
Nine sacks of pipis
Eight plants of puha
Seven eels a swimming
Six pois a twirling
Five – big – fat – pigs!
Four huhu grubs
Three flax kits
Two kumera
And a pukeko in a ponga tree!

Just in case your Maori is a bit rusty… These definitions come from the New Zealand Oxford Dictionary (however, the educational links are mine :-).

Pukeko = A hen-sized tail-flicking rail, Porphyrio porphyrio, with black and purple plumage and red bill, common throughout New Zealand and found as well in Australia and elsewhere (also called swamp-hen, and this is its usual name overseas.)

Ponga Tree = A New Zealand tree fern, Cyathea dealbata, having fronds with silvery white undersides (also called silver fern, silver tree fern.)

Kumara (also Kumera) = The Polynesian sweet potato. Here’s a link to the website for the Kaipara Kumara brand of kumara.

Piupiu (Piuspius in the song, but there is no “s” in Maori) = A traditional Maori skirt (think hula skirt) made of dried flax leaves attached to a waist-band. Piupiu are worn by Maori men and women for traditional ceremonies and dances.

Haka = A traditional warlike Maori posture dance accompanied by dancing.

Pipi (Pipis in the song; however, there is no “s” in Maori) = Any of several edible molluscs, especially the smooth shelled cockle Paphies australis.

Puha = A sowthistle of the genus Sonchus cooked as a vegetable, especially by Maori (also called Maori cabbage, rauriki.)

Poi (Pois in the song) = A small light ball on a long or short string (long poi, short poi) swung and twirled rythmically in Maori songs and dances.

Huhu = The edible larva of a flying beetle, Prionoplus reticularis, found in decayed wood. Some folks have described their flavor as tasting like buttery chicken.

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