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Songs in Te Reo for Early Childhood Education

Updated on October 30, 2012

Popular action songs collection

It can be difficult and time consuming searching for the lyrics to songs in Te Reo Maori. I have collected the lyrics to some popular action songs used in early childhood settings and placed them here for convenience.

Head shoulders knees and toes
Head shoulders knees and toes

Te Tinana

Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

Head, shoulders, knees and toes is one of the most popular action songs I have come across. Below is the Maori version with the English translation in brackets.

Mahunga (head), pakihiwi (shoulders), puku (stomach), hope (hips), waewae (leg) x 3

Taringa (ears), whatu (eyes), ihu (nose), waha (mouth) e.

ti rakau
ti rakau

E hine hoki mai ra

E Papa Waiari

This song is often used for Maori stick games (ti rakau).

E papa Waiari

Taku nei mahi

Taku nei mahi

He tuku roimata

E aua, ka mate au

E hine hoki mai ra

E aue, ka mate au

E hine hoki mai ra


This song helps teach children different actions in Te Reo.

Pakipaki, pakipaki (clap)

Tamariki ma

Pakipaki, pakipaki

Tamariki ma

Repeat with the following actions:

kanikani (dance)

hurihuri (turn around)

e peke (jump)

e oma (run)

e hula (hula)

takahia (stamp)

e haka (haka)

e moe (sleep)

Ma is White

Although not an action song, this is a great one for teaching colours in Te Reo. Movement could be introduced by getting different children to hold up coloured card at the appropriate moment.

Ma is white

Whero is red

Kakariki green

Pango is black, mungu is too


Kowhai yellow

Parauri brown

Kikorangi blue

Parakaraka is our orange


It should be noted that there are often variations to these lyrics as there is often more than one word for each colour.

Books and CD's

If you are in need of music, lyrics and instructions for actions then the following products could be of use.

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      chaanah-oliver 5 years ago

      very useful!