Subject: ariki / rangatira warrior chief
Setting: Musket Wars, Aotearoa / North Island 1807-1840
Object: patu-patu short clubs
Patu / Mere
* Knight/Ruggeri 2013 p23
"Maori hand-weapons were generally known as mere or patu (a generic term meaning to strike or subdue). The most prized was the mere pounamu, which was made of greenstone. Greenstone was very difficult to work effectively with traditional Maori tools, and possession of a greenstone mere was generally considered evidence of great mana. The weapon itself was typically between 10 and 12in long (25-30cm), with a handle at one end -- often pierced through to take a wrist-thong of flax or dog-skin -- and swelling into a rounded, flat blade at the other. Because of the hardness of the stone, mere pounamu could be worked to a thinner, keener edge than most other Maori hand-weapons. Typically, a warrior would jab with the end of the mere or strike sideways at the temple, neck or rib-cage of an opponent; a fierce blow with a greenstone mere could split a skill wide open, or even decapitate a victim. Clubs or a similar shape were also made of other stones and of whalebone, although neither possessed all the qualities of the mere pounamu."
* Te Maori 1984 p225 f149
".... As a weapon it was used like a short sword with the main attacking stroke being a thrust with the tip after a series of parries and counterparries. The warrior code of chiefs often involved challenges to single combat, the issue being decided by the first three blows struck by one side or the other. A patu was often a treasured heirloom passed down from father to son and given a personal name. A nephrite one was, and still is, a symbol of chieftainship."
* Pitt Rivers Museum online > Patu (1923.87.8)
"Most patu were rather plain and made of bone or greenstone (nephrite), the latter being very highly prized due to the skill involved in shaping it. [....]
"A patu was heavy enough to be an effective bludgeon and, if made of a material that could provide a thin enough edge, a cleaving weapon too. When used by skilled Maori warrior in hand-to hand combat it could prove deadly; typical strike zones included the temple, jaw and the ribs. Joseph Banks, a naturalist who accompanied James Cook on his epic circumnavigation of the globe in 1769-1772, wrote admiringly in his journal as their ship HMS Endeavour took leave of New Zealand in March 1770: 'patoos patoos as they calld them, a kind of small hand bludgeon of stone, bone or hard wood most admirably calculated for the cracking of sculls...always however hav[e] sharp edges and a sufficient weight to make a second blow unnecessary' [from J. C. Beaglehole (1963) The Endeavour Journal of Joseph Banks, 1768-1771 (2 vols), Sydney: Trustees of the Public Library of New South Wales).
"A warrior who carried a patu was considered to possess great strength and honour and today, the patu has come to symbolise the facing and overcoming of life's challenges and difficulties."
* Stone 1934 p490-491
"PATU. A short fighting club that was the Maori's principal weapon. They were made of stone, wood or bone. The stone clubs are of a simple spatulate shape and quite sharp on the edges.... The name is qualified by the addition of another word to indicate the material from which it is made, as patu onewa, one made of basalt -- patu paraoa, one made from the jawbone of the sperm whale -- patu pounamou, one made of jade; the last is also called mere. A mere is always a jade club and it is not proper to call a club of any other material by this name. All of the stone clubs are almost always without ornament other than some fluting on the end of the handle."
* Evans 2014 p31-32
"Warriors using such weapons in battle relied heavily on quick footwork and agility. Some were so skilled that it was not unheard of for a man armed with a mere or patu and an old cape wrapped around his free arm to fight an enemy armed with a spear or taiaha. Typical strike zones for warriors fighting with mere and patu included the temple, the jaw and the ribs. In each case the leading edge of the weapon was used. This evolution away from the more typical downward blow common to other forms of club led to the emphasis on sharpening the front edge of the weapon, and to a lesser extent its sides. A secondary development was the introduction of a bored or chiselled hole to accomodate the wrist cored, which became necessary to stop a blood- or sweat-drenched hand slipping up the weapon during the thurst."
* Starzecka ed. 1996 p38 f22 (Ngahuia Te Awkotuku, "Maori: People and culture" p26-49)
"Short nephrite club, mere pounamu. This was manipulated like a cleaver, with slicing motions to the head, neck and joints of the enemy's body. It was considered the most prestigious of chiefly weapons. ..."
* Burton 1884 p47
"The Stone Age produced nothing more remarkable than the Pattu-Pattu or Meri of New Zealand, which an arrested development prevented becoming a Sword. Its shape, that of an animal's blade-bone, suggests its primitive material .... What assimilates it to the Sword is that it is sharp-edged at the top as well as the side. It is used for 'prodding' as well as for striking, and the place usually chosen for the blow is the head, above the ear, where the skull is weakest. Some specimens are of the finest green jade or nephrite, a refractory stone which must have been most troublesome to fashion."
* Thompson 2008 p116
"Patu -- Cook's 'patoo patoo' -- is both a Maori verb meaning to strike, beat, thrash, subdue, ill-treat, or kill, and a noun describing a short, flat, paddle-shaped club with a sharpened edge made of wood, greenstone, or bone. It was worn stuck in a warrior's belt and used to deliver the death blow to an opponent, first with an upthrust of the sharpened edge to the temple, neck, or ribs, followed by a downward blow with the butt of the weapon upon the enemy's head. Banks described a 'patoo patoo' he examined as weighing 'not less than 4 or 5 pounds' and 'certainly well contrived for splitting skulls,' while an early French visitor called it a 'casse-tête,' literally 'head-breaker,' 'parce qu'ils n'en font pas d'autre usage,' because there was no other use for it."
* Fryer 1969 p88
"Mere A New Zealand, Maori, club, made of green stone. It is plain, spatulate in form and with polished blade."
"Patu The New Zealand, Maori, war club of bone, wood or stone. It is polished, spatulate in form and has sharp edges."
* Kaeppler 2008 p132
"The favorite Maori weapon was a hand club, used in close combat. Made of basalt, greenstone, wood, or whalebone, patu were symbols of status and are important as heirlooms and historical records."
* Te Maori 1994 p48
"Club--Kotiate Paraoa ... Te Huringa I period (1800--) ...
Kotiate literally means 'cut liver' and describes the shape of this club. All Maori short clubs were used as thrusting weapons in close fighting. After a blow to the temple the notches at the side were used, which, by a twist, lifted off the top of the skull. [CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION: Is this even physically possible?] A chief carrying such a weapon would often challenge the opposing chief to single combat. The first to get in three blows won the duel and often the war."
* Stone 1932 p491
"The kotiate (liver cutter) was made of bone or wood and was broad, flat and symmetrical with an indentation on each side that gives it somewhat the shape of a violin. It usually has a head carved on the end of the handle as the only ornament."
* Evans 2014 p42
"The kotiate was a prized weapon on the battlefield, as well as being favoured by many chiefs during speech making. It was a curiously shaped weapon designed for close-quarter fighting, and noted for the carved notches on either side of the blade. According to popular tradition, these notches were used to entwine the intestines and other organs of the vanquished enemy -- a tradition that is borne out somewhat by the translation of the word kotiate, which literally means 'to cut liver'."
* Thompson 2008 p123
"[A] short, fiddle-shaped Maori club [was] called a wahaika ...."
* Fryer 1969 p87
"Kotiate A New Zealand, Maori, club. They are of wood or whalebone, double-lobed in form, and with carved pommel to the handle."
* Knight/Ruggeri 2013 p23
"[T]he patu kotiate had a characteristic 'violin' profile and was usually made of whalebone. The notches on the side of the kotiate were used to catch and deflect enemy weapons in combat, but could also inflict gruesome ripping injuries when then struck flesh."
* Evans 2014 p43
"When using a kotiate against longer weapons such as a taiaha or pouwhenua, a warrior's main strategy was to parry and sidestep blows until he could get within arm's reach of his opponent, where the longer weapon lots its advantage to the point where it became a liability. The warrior with the kotiate could then strike at his enemy, using its leading edge with a quick jab called a tipi. Once an enemy had been disabled, a downward strike with the reke, or butt, was often used to finish him off. A favoured strike zone was the temple, where a twist of the wrist upon contact could crack open the skull."
* Evans 2014 p38
"Although the shape of the wahaika (which literally means 'mouth of the fish') was quite distinctive when compared with other forms of patu, this was perhaps the least uniform of all patu and clubs, with many small variations in design. Wahaika were made of both whalebone and wood. As may be expected, a larger proportion of the wooden wahaika have surface carving on the blade when compared to those fashioned from bone. A further variation can be seen in a number of very thin, curved wahaika that were fashioned from the crown of the sperm whale's skull.
"The most striking features of the wahaika were the concave back and the peculiar notch that is carved into the edge of many surviving examples. A number of wahaika were also carved on the reke, or butt, and significant numbers also had small human or manaia figures cared above the handle."
* Meyer 1995 v2 p563 f651
"War club called patu wahaika. Patu is the generic name for all short spatulate weapons; wahaika means a fish-mouth. An ancestral figure is carved along the inside curve and the lizard-like head of a manaia figure on the butt."
* Te Maori 1984 p188 f45
"This type of curved wooden hand club was used for close infighitng. The weapon is handled rather like a short sword and is used for thrusting, with the blow being made by the end not the sides. The figures on the side and butt are mythological. It should be noted that the shape of a wahaika (literally, fish mouth) is quite distinctive and differs from all other short hand clubs of the patu category."
* Fryer 1969 p89
"Wahaika A short Maori club with curved blade. It is made of wood or bone and frequently carved."
* Knight/Ruggeri 2013 p23
"The patu wahaika was a hardwood club with a profile rather like a European bill-hook blade ...."
* Simmons 1985 p169
"The point of the blade has a perforation hole and a broken out hole. Dr. Skinner suggested that this was deliberate and gave the name 'wahaika' (fish mouth) to the club type."
* Wardwell 1994 p218
"This form of short club with the broad tongue-shaped blade is unique to New Zealand. Its name, wahaika, is literally translated as 'fish mouth,' a reference to the shape of the blade. Such clubs were used for combat and in dances, during which they were brandished in mock battles. In battle, they were employed in thrusting and jabbing motions, the end, not the sides, being the part that inflicted damage. They were also important elements of chiefly regalia that were carried in the belt when not held in the hand. Most have a human head carved below the handle and a small reclining figure just above the handle on the inside of the blade. Both of these figures represent mythological ancestors. The hole at the base was for the attachment of a flax suspension cord that was looped around the wrist." [references omitted]
* National Army Museum Te Mata Toa > Māori weapons online
"The wahaika was a pre-European weapon that was traditionally used in hand to hand contact. Wahaika, which means “Mouth of the Fish,” was mostly made from wood or whalebone. The wooden wahaika is often carved with intricate designs. These weapons have a concave back and have a carved notch on the edge of the back of the weapon. Many also have carvings on the reke, and many have carvings of small human-looking figures near the handle. The weapons were used in battle, of course, but also used in speeches and ceremony to accentuate the delivery of a particular point where Rangitira wanted people to pay attention. As with the other Māori weapons, the wahaika were used in hand-to-hand combat. The warrior would thrust the wahaika into the body of their enemy, and since the wahaika has a sharp edge, much harm could be done."