Subject: ariki / rangatira warrior chief
Setting: Musket Wars, Aotearoa / North Island 1807-1830
Object: long clubs
* Evans 2014 p20
"The taiaha is perhaps the best known of all Maori weapons, being well represented in museum collections around the world. It was known by several names throughout Aotearoa, including maipi, hani, and the dialectical variation taieha in parts of the South Island. Another name that can probably be added to this list is turuhi, which is described in Williams' Dictionary of the Maori Language as being similar in appearance to the taiaha, and generally made from maire. A second description of the weapon states it was 'about 6ft. long, of which about 2ft. 6 in. formed a broad blade 21/2 in. wide and 3/4 in. thick'.
"Taiaha varied considerably in length, ranging from 1.2 to 1.9 m or more, with an 'average' length of 1.5 m. The weapon can be divided into three separate sections. The first was the rau, or long striking blade, which was fairly consistent in width, usually between 6 and 7 cm wide, although individual preference meant that some rau were as narrow as 4 cm. Next came the shaft, which was somewhat oval in cross-section. The third section was the proximal end, which featured two stylised upoko, or heads, carved back to back, with an arero or tongue extending out from the mouth in the Maori gesture of defiance. Generally, both sides of the arero were carved in an intricate pattern of curvilinear designs. The arero formed the extreme end of the weapon."
* Stone 1934 p280-281
"HANI, TAIAHA. A New Zealand staff with a carved head and a long, round staff flattened towards the end. The head is a conventional face with an enormous tongue thrust out in the attitude of defiance; the tongue is usually much larger than the head and elaborately carved. The shaft is generally plain, always so in those intended for fighting. One was always carried by every Maori of position and was used to gesticulate with when speaking, as well as being one of the most popular weapons. The young men were taught a regular system of cuts and guards with it."
* Mitcalfe 1981 p81 caption
"Arawa chief, with taiaha or cross-stave. The tongue of the taiaha carries the traditional pattern of six spirals. It was the weapon that would disable the enemy, then the mere or patu (club), carried thonged about the wrist, would deal the final blow."
* James Cook 1998 p299
"These [types of long club: pouwhenua, tewhatewha, and taiaha or hani] all feature a cutting edge for striking and a sharp point for stabbing, and can thus be considered a combination of spear and club. Buck considered the taiaha type to be the last to be developed. While the other long clubs were decorated along the shaft, the taiaha is decorated at the tip, which was used for stabbing. The area of decoration is rather large here, the tip representing the tongue of a face. The taiaha were otherwise often embellished with tufts of white dog hair and red feathers. Hence, they often served as showpieces and were held in the hands during official addresses."
* Knight ill. Ruggeri 2013 p22
"The taiaha had a point at one end and a flat, spatulate blade at the other; wielded with great dexterity by a practiced warrior, it could be used either as a thrusting weapon or to deliver short, chopping blows. One common ploy was to feint at the enemy's upper body with the point; then, as he stepped back to respond, to strike with the flat blade to the top of the head -- a blow that, if it struck home, was usually fatal. The spear-end was usually carved to resemble a head from above, with the point being a projecting tongue. The taiaha of men of rank were usually decorated with a collar of brightly-coloured feathers below the pointed head, and with a thick fringe of dog-hair below that."
* Early Chinese art and the Pacific Basin 1968 p106-107
"In New Zealand the tongue-blade motif appears on the five-to-six foot wooden clubs known as taiaha, hani, or maipi. [...] The taiaha is classified a a club rather than a spear and is regarded as the most important of the two-handed striking weapons known to the Maori. ... [I]t was the 'favorite weapon,' and chiefs in particular were apt to carry it into battle. ... [T]he tongue-end, called the arero, was 'urged forwards as a mark of insult towards the enemy,' an explanation which is in keeping with the Maori's general use of protruding tongues to symbolize defiance and to instill terror. In battle the tongue-end itself was used only for feinting and jabbing; once the opponent was sufficiently disconcerted, the blade-end was swung around to deliver the crucial blow. An elaborate set of positions and guards were established for the proper use of the taiaha, which were often carried out in ceremonial displays of skill. ... [M]any Maori legends describe the use of the taiaha to test the prowess of men and heroes.
"In addition to its prominence in both real and ceremonial warfare, the taiaha was a symbol of chiefly rank and authority. ... The chief carried the staff vertically, with the tongue pointed upward, and flourished it about as he spoke to his subjects at public meetings and ceremonies. ... "The royal, even tapu (taboo) nature of the taiaha is further underscored in its use as a divinatory instrument. ... [I]ts shell-inlaid eyes were capable of seeing and of divining the intentions of the enemy, and ... the information which was gleaned was then passed up the shaft to the warrior. Many taiaha were handed down from generation to generation as ancestral relics and oracles for divination." ... [references omitted]
* Stone 1934 p612
"TEWHA-TEWHA, TAIAHA. One of the most used of New Zealand weapons. It is a long club with a straight shaft pointed at one end and with a quadrant-shaped blade at the other. Unlike most Maori articles it is usually perfectly plain, or at most, has a narrow band of carving around the middle of the shaft. A bunch of feathers was hung from the blade which was flicked in the face of an adversary when fencing in order to confuse him. The blade was not used for striking, but always the straight side; the point was also used for thrusting. The Maoris had an elaborate system of fencing with both the long and short clubs which was regularly taught the young men. On one occasion an old chief said: 'There are but two parts of an opponent that need to be watched, the point of the shoulder if he is using a short club, and the big toe of the advanced foot if he is using a long weapon; the one will twitch and the other dig into the ground the instant before he strikes.'"
* Evans 2014 p17-18
"The tewhatewha was commonly referred to by Maori as the 'rakau rangatira', or chiefly weapon. This was because it was often seen in the hands of chiefs, either signalling warriors during battle, on the marae, or marking time for paddlers in waka taua. It was particularly effective for this because it stood out physically from all other weapons, and the feathers that usually decorated it added to its visibility.
"It is easy to see why the tewhatewha was often termed a battle-axe by early visitors to Aotearoa. While the shaft closes down to a mata, or point, similar to that of the pouwhenua, the main visual feature of the tewhatewha is the broad, quarter-round head at hte striking end, called the rapa. Despite the tewhatewha's similarity to a European axe, it was the edge of the shaft in front of the rapa, rather than the rounded edge, that was used when striking an enemy. The rapa was there primarily for the extra weight it provided when striking."
* Feest 1980 p55 f59
"The attached bunch of hawk feathers served to divert the attention of the opponent. The blade is not used for striking but adds weight to the striking end."
* Knight ill. Ruggeri 2013 p22
"The tewhatewha had a long handle, elegantly tapered to a point at one end, and flared out in a flat, fin-shaped blade at the other. Although resembling a European axe in profile, it was not the curved edge of the blade that was used for striking but rather the thicker back edge. The weapon was wielded like a two-handed axe, the blade waving to distract the opponent until the time came to strike. Many tewhatewha had a small hole drilled in the base of the blade through which was tied a bunch of feathers or leaves on a string which fluttered about in combat, further distracting the enemy. It also caught the sunlight and the eye when Maori commanders held the tewhatewha high to signal to their men. Like many wooden Maori weapons, the tewhatewha was often carved with swirling designs on the flat of the blade."
* Evans 2014 p60
"The hoeroa is something of an enigma, the exact function of which is still keenly debated. Not all experts are convinced that the hoeroa was in fact designed as a weapon, despite a small number of stories that seem to support this view. A number of authorities suggest that the hoeroa was used primarily as a staff of chiefly authority, and only used as a weapon in emergencies. This confusion exists mainly because there are so few surviving reliable descriptions of the hoeroa in use from pre-European times."
* Best 1952 p179
"The hoeroa, a double-handed weapon of very singular form, the material being whale's bone, was less common than other weapons. Its curious reverse-curve form has puzzled collectors as to the mode of using it."