Poi originated with the Māori people of New Zealand where it is still practiced today. Poi has also gained a following in many other countries. The expansion of poi culture has led to a significant evolution of the styles practiced, the tools used, the definition of the word “poi” and an involved global community. The Internet has directly fueled the popularity of modern poi by helping people around the world discover poi and learn from one another. Fire poi are constructed by suspending a wick from a chain with some form of handle at the other end, generally a ball grip or one to two loops for fingers.
The poi rotate around the hand and body to create a multitude of shapes, lines and patterns. The most common and easily recognisable of these include shapes resembling circles, 4 petal flowers and other spirograph-esque patterns. These are possibly the fastest-spreading and most commonly used fire prop today and are often the gateway for many beginner fire performers into the field of other tools. Despite their technical nature, Fire poi have developed possibly the most expansive repertoire of theory, technique and terminology of all other tools. This is perhaps due to the fact that their predecessors, the well-known glowstickers of the early 90s, had already blazed a wide trail of ideas and technique. A massive amount of this information is collected, cataloged and available online for the mathematically, theoretically and systematically inclined. Poi also share many of these concepts with other tools.