Volume 11 1902 > Volume 11, No. 4 > Notes on the art of war as conducted by the Maori of New Zealand, with accounts of various customs, rites, superstitions... by Elsdon Best, p 219-246
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Famous Warriors.
Part IV.

IT is obvious that, among a warlike people like the Maori, those warriors noted for courage, ability, &c. in battle, would acquire distinction in their tribe and even be well known by fame among distant peoples. Such famous fighting generals were not necessarily of high birth. The famous Ropata of Ngati-Porou was but a sub-chief, yet he achieved great fame by his skill in fighting. It was he who caused the turbulent Urewera and the savage Ngati-Huri, ever bitterly hostile to the pakeha (Europeans), to hide in caves and remote gullies of their rugged country.

Names of such famous generals as Te Waharoa, Hongi, Te Rau-paraha, &c., are most prominent in native history, and numberless anecdotes are related of their skill, courage and ferocity. Still many of the famous fighting chiefs of modern times owed much of their fame to the terror which the newly acquired gun inspired.

Te Purewa was a famous fighting chief of Tuhoe, many tales are told of his desperate ventures. So feared was he by those who fell under his displeasure, that he was almost regarded as a demi-god. He is often spoken of as an atua whakahaehae—a terrifying demon.

Te Ika-poto was another famed fighter of Tuhoeland. He was possessed of an enormous head of hair which stood out from his head all round in a truly terrifying manner. I am informed that, when - 220 he entered a village, the children thereof fled in dismay. This kind of hair is a sign of Melanesian blood, which is very noticeable among the natives of Maunga-pohatu, being doubtless derived from the migration of Whiro-nui or some previous one.

The prestige of a famous warrior (toa) was great, and were his own warlike powers backed by a famous and powerful atua mo te riri or war-god, then he and his warriors were practically irresistible, at least according to themselves; and the universe lay in the hollow of his hand. It was thus that Uhia and his god Te Rehu-o-Tainui harried far lands, until the power of that famous war-god waned.

A noted warrior is often alluded to as a toka tu moana—a rock standing in the sea.

Many mythical stories concerning famous braves are extant, as for instance items illustrating their wonderful prowess in battle. When Whare-pakau was captured at Te Whaiti by an invading force he is said to have defeated them single-handed.

When near his death a chief would make his last speech to the tribe, warning them against sloth, carelessness, &c. and urging them to avenge all wrongs.


A somewhat important item in Maori warfare is the relationship existing between members of different tribes, the result of exogamous marriages. A person related to both sides in war was often spared although living with the enemy and probably caught in arms against the tribe that spared him. A taharua, or person related to two tribes would often pass to and fro between the opposing camps, when those tribes were at war. When Tuhoe defeated Ngati-Ruapani and drove them away from Waikare-moana, the taharua remained undisturbed there and thus kept the tribal fire burning upon the land. These taharua also frequently gave warning to tribes they were related to, that they were about to be attacked, as Tikitu of Ngati-Awa wh sent a messenger to warn Tuhoe that Ngati-Awa were marching to attack them. Sometimes a taharua would leave his tribe that he was living with and join the attacking party, when composed of his relatives of another tribe.

After the battle of Wai-kotero, fought out by the Urewera-Ngapuhi League against the Wairoa natives, one Ra-ka-tau of the enemy, being a taharua to the Urewera, visited the camp of that people and remained with them for a time and presented them with some valuable weapons. He was advised by the Urewera not to return to the Puke-karoro pa as they intended to besiege and take the place, which they afterwards did.

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Another expression heard in the recital of the old wars is Kopu-ruai.e., literally, double-stomach, the stomach being the seat of affections with the Maori. A tangata kopu-rua is a man whose mind is divided between the fighting and pity for the vanquished.

When Mohaka, the famous seer of the Wairoa tribe, lifted the war-trail against Tuhoe, there were two păpă (tokens) of the matakite, or prophecy, a lone tree and a light haired man (see ante). This man was to be caught and degraded, but was on no account to be slain. However when he was caught, one of his captors did not wish to see him degraded for life and showed his sympathy for the unfortunate man by killing him, that he might die as a man, his honour and dignity untarnished. Thus he saved his enemy from degradation and proved himself a tangata kopu-rua. Nor would the relatives and friends of the slain man look upon the slayer as a tama-a-hara, inasmuch as he had saved their chief from losing caste for all time.

I have heard it stated that a Maori war party has been known to supply a besieged enemy with food, that the latter might be enabled to continue fighting. If true, this would point to a singularly strong love for fighting. But I have no authentic illustration to offer.

Modes of Fighting.

The Maori employed various modes of fighting in the days of the Rakau-maori (native weapons). He was an adept in the arts of scouting and ambuscading. He possessed wondrous patience in besieging or being besieged, often on a very scanty diet. He was capable of fighting desperately to the death against a superior force, but was liable to panics from causes that would not affect a more enlightened people. Evil omens, such as have been described, would subtract two thirds of his fighting power. His courage was ever liable to be affected by the evils of Tu-mata-rehurehu and kindred afflictions. Numbers appeared to have no terror for the Maori. A hokowhitu (ten sevens, twice told—140) of tried warriors was a favourite number for a war party and, if the signs were propitious, they would confidently attack an enemy of vastly superior numbers, or await their attack with a calmness passing belief. Did not the far famed eighty of Taranaki hold Te Namu at O-punake against five hundred warriors of Waikato, who had to beat a retreat to their own country.

In olden times the warriors, having probably wound themselves up by means of a terrific war dance, accompanied by a stirring war song, would rush at the enemy and fight at close quarters, as the nature of their weapons demanded. But when guns were obtained the old methods fell into disuse, as not being fitted for forces armed with fire-arms.

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The style of fighting most dreaded was that adopted by a taua-a-toto1 or war party bent on blood vengeance, such a party being more determined and desperate than an ordinary force.

The tide of battle has been turned by the fall of a chief at a critical moment, for his warriors, anxious to prevent his body falling into the hands of the enemy (and subsequently into their stomachs), would rally and make a rush to rescue him dead or alive. Thus the tide of battle was often turned. When the friendly Wairoa natives and a few Europeans fought the Urewera and other rebel tribes at Te Kopani in 1865, Ihaka Whanga, a friendly chief, advanced before his men who had had enough of the ambush, and fired at the enemy until he fell, wounded in two places. His men at once rushed forward to recover his body, and later, in conjunction with the fighting Ngati-Porou, drove the rebels from the position, after killing sixty-five of them.

Another item that has often turned defeat into victory is the following: A chief on seeing his men giving way, and a disaster imminent, would cry out “Let me die on my land.” At once his men would rally round him and fight with desperation. The chief would probably thrust his spear in the ground as he made the above remark, and the spear would serve as a kind of neuclus or rallying point of the fight. Such an incident occurred when the famed warrior Te Waharoa attacked the Arawa at O-hine-mutu. The latter were decoyed out of their pa by Ngati-Haua who pretended to fly in terror, pursued by the Arawa, who were surprised to see two ambushes of several hundreds of men rise against them. The Arawa at once fled back to their pa, losing many on the way, and rushed through the entrance of the fort and were beginning in terror to abandon the same, when the chief Koro-kai shouted “Let me die here, upon my own land.” His men, many of whom were already in their canoes, prepared for flight, at once rallied and beat off the enemy. But Ngati-Haua carried off sixty dead Arawa, and held a royal feast thereon2

A favourite method of fighting among the Maori was the sending forward of a small party of about seventy men, who marched on the pa or village of the enemy and, having started the fight, gradually retreated to some pre-arranged place where the main body (matua) of the warriors would be ready for the fray. There were two reasons for acting thus. It might be done in order to lure an enemy out of his pa (fort) so as to enable the attacking force to fight him in the open, or it might be that the matakite (prophecy) had specified some particular place where the battle must be fought in order to gain a - 223 victory. The field of Puke-kai-kāhu is an instance thereof. Four hundred fighting men of Tuhoe marched against the Arawa. They were under Uhia, priest and medium of the illustrious war god, Te Rehu-o-Tainui. Uhia camped his men at Puke-kai-kāhu, where he stuck his sacred staff in the ground, and declared that the battle should be fought there. Seventy men were sent on to Te Ariki to attack the enemy and lure them to the appointed field. This was done, and the battle raged round the staff of Uhia, whereon was hung his sacred girdle. As the commands of the atua had been obeyed, of course Tuhoe won the field.

When a war-party is traversing dangerous country, and expecting an ambush, or to be attacked at any moment, the scouts and also the vanguard adopt the kaikape mode of advance. Say several men are some distance ahead of the main body, as the eyes of the force, on the look out for ambushes, when they have been for some time engaged in this dangerous and trying task, they fall back on the main body, and others take their place. It is a good plan. The intense watchfulness necessary, and the sense of danger, are a great strain on the mind, and the falling back for a while relieves the tension. Tuhoe adopted the kaikape style when advancing on the Tapiri, as they knew that the enemy were aware of their advance and would probably ambush them. Harehare of Ngati-Manawa, whom Tuhoe had, on the advance, taken prisoner at Ahi-kereru, had escaped and fled to his friends at Te Tapiri.

Riri pakipaki means to surround in fighting. The rebel natives employed this method on several occasions when fighting the Imperial soldiers and colonists.

A strange and daring method of fighting and harassing an enemy was the following—Sometimes, a man noted for courage and self-reliance would advance into the enemy's country alone, or possibly accompanied by one or two comrades. They would hang about a settlement and cut off stragglers, and cases are on record where one or two men have charged through a village, killing whom they could and escaping into the forest.

Ruru of Tuhoe was a famous brave (toa) of the last generation. It fell upon a certain fine day that Ruru said “I will go a fishing.” So off he set with his fish net and torch to Wai-o-hau. When night fell he lighted his torch and proceeded to wade up a creek in search of the guileless kokopu. As he was wading up stream he saw a fire ahead of him. Ruru at once extinguished his torch and cautiously approached the fire; wherein we may note the caution of the Maori in his fighting days (every unknown person was an enemy or treated as such). Ruru found the fire surrounded by a party of Ngati-Awa, who were sleeping. Ruru dashed in among the party with raised weapon - 224 shouting the old battle cry. “Hoatu ki roto-E! Hoatu ki roto3 This was to cause Ngati-Awa to believe themselves attacked by a war-party. He succeeded in killing two men, Hoi, and Te Huri-aroaro, while Ngati-Awa fled in terror. Thus did Ruru gain his ika hui rua (see ante) and achieve fame. It is sad to think that when the onsweeping pakeha had put a stop to inter-tribal fighting, Ruru of the stalwart arm fell from grace and turned to cultivate the black arts of the wizard, and cultivated them with dire effect, until the simple-minded Children of the Mist put a bullet through his head, which seemed to discourage him.

When a party is being pursued and are hard pressed, they generally separate and scatter in all directions, to meet again at a prearranged place. This method of confusing pursuers is known among the Tuhoe tribe as whaka-raurēkau. It was much used by Te Kooti, when pursued by the colonial forces.

The takiri is a false retreat, made use of in order to draw the enemy out of their defences and into an ambush, as already described—generally known among Tuhoe as taki. When the Wairoa natives attacked Te Whakatohea, they employed this stratagem, the principal warriors remaining in the rear of the retreating column until, at a signal, they turned on their pursuers and defeated them.

When Tuamutu of Te Tini-o-Toi cast about for a scheme whereby he might destroy Rongo-popoia and his people, he hit upon the following novel plan. He caused a great fish-net to be made of strong material and sent for Rongo-popoia and his people to come and assist in the first dragging thereof. When the net was cast, Tuamutu stationed Rongo and his people to act as karihi (weights) to keep the lower rope down, Tua's people having charge of the upper rope. At a given signal from Tua, these latter drew the net over Rongo and his men who, before they could extricate themselves, were put to death by their enemies. So much for the fine old Maori gentleman.

When Rangi-te-ao-rere, of illustrious fame, undertook the task of conquering the isle of Mokoia, in Roto-rua lake, he was informed by his father that the venture was one of great hazard, inasmuch as when canoes approached the shores of that classic isle, the islesmen waded out into the shoal waters of the lake and, seizing the canoes, dragged them ashore and slew the invaders. So Rangi prepared his warriors and gave them instructions how to act. He borrowed a large canoe from his father and placed therein two stout poles and two ropes. They paddled over to Mokoia in the darkness of night, and when in shoal water near the shore, they drove one pole down into the mud and fastened one end of a rope to it, and the other end to the bow - 225 of the canoe. They then swung the canoe off shore and sunk the other pole further out, fastening the stern of the canoe to it with the other rope. The islesmen, the Tini-o-Kawa-Arero, waded out and seized the bow rope and tried to drag the canoe ashore. But Rangi and his warriors were in the water holding firmly to the stern rope and pole. He gave a signal and his men released their rope from the pole and swerved round towards the shore, dragging the canoe with them. This threw the islesmen into confusion, and before they recovered therefrom the canoe was beached, and, as my informant put it, “Then was heard the sound of weapons as they bit into the heads of the enemy, and ere long nothing remained beneath the shining sun save the drifting waters of the lake!”

In the old days, fights often appear to have taken place in houses. Sometimes the people of a village were surprised in their houses at night, or on wet, cold days. Sometimes the fighters retreated into a house for purposes of their own. As this article deals almost solely with the lore of the Tuhoe tribe, it may be explained that Tuhoe ever lived in small scattered communities, in which most of the people of a village would sleep in one large whare-puni, or earth covered sleeping house.

When the Wairoa warriors, under Paetihi, marched on Maungapo-hatu, they selected a wet day on which to deliver an assault on the Papakai pa at Te Kakari. They surrounded the fort and, there being no watchmen or defenders about, entered therein and surrounded the large whare-puni wherein the people were. The invaders proceeded to make matters uncomfortable for Ngati-Huri by thrusting their long spears through the thatched roof and the smoke-hole, thus killing many of the occupants, The pluckiest of them broke out and fled. Te Ika-poto fled, wailing as he ran for his dead. His companion said, “Why do you lament now, while we are being pursued, leave your lamentations until we are safe. Tē waiho kia puta te ihu.

After Tihori of Rangi-taiki deserted his wife Kopura-kai-whiti and her two children, Paumapuku and Maiopa, the latter settled at Mokai-tokorau. When her sons grew to manhood, Kopura built a house for them and they, having been trained to arms, were despatched to capture and slay a man as a sacrifice to lift the tapu from the new house. They journeyed towards Tarawera, but were seen and pursued by the Tini-o-Kawerau, an ancient tribe of those parts, Maiopa was speared and slain, but Pau escaped, though still pursued. When he reached the bank of the river he shouted, Ko te whakaariki, E! E! Ko te whakaariki. “The war party! The war party!” He then swam the river, and all the people went inside a large house. The pursuers crossed the river and attacked the house, trying to pull it down, when the warriors therein burst suddenly forth and succeeded in defeating the enemy, slaying many.

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When Rongo-karae and his people were attacked at Kiwi-nui pa by Maruiwi, the chief collected his most famous warriors within a large house and caused them to loosen the front wall of the house by digging the earth away from the posts, &c. The balance of the defenders were driven back from the walls, and called upon Rongo to come forth and fight, but he answered, “Wait until the hands of the enemy grasp the thatch of Toka-nui”—this being the name of the house. The enemy crowded into the porch of the house, endeavouring to gain an entrance, when Rongo caused his men to push on the loosened wall until it fell on the people without. In the confusion Rongo and his warriors rushed out and attacked Maruiwi, whom they defeated.

Ambuscades and Their Uses.

Ambuscades are variously termed puniho, whakamoe kokoti, whaka-noho kokoti and kokoti-moe-roa, in Tuhoeland. Among other tribes the terms pehipehi, haupapa, whakatakoto and kauae-roa obtain.

The kokoti-moe-roa or puniho is used in attack. The attacking force lay several ambushes a short distance away from each other. A small party, termed a hunuhunu, is sent forward to challenge the enemy and commence a fight. When the attacked come forth from their pa to attack the hunuhunu, the latter retreat and taki or decoy their enemies past the ambushes. The first ambush reached make no sign, the pursuers pass on until they reach the furthest ambuscade, which rises and gives battle, the others appear and attack the enemy in the rear. The hunuhunu march openly on the enemy and do not conceal themselves, as scouts would. “Kua haere te hunuhunu, ka noho te kokoti.4 Ambuscades in such a case are usually laid at night and the hunuhunu are sent out early in the morning. The whakanoho kokoti is similar to the above, but only one ambush is laid. The hunuhunu is sometimes termed poa—E poapoa ana te taua, i.e., they are sending out a bait to entice the enemy.

Manukawhaki means to entice by stratagem, an art much cultivated in Maori warfare.

It was by means of an ambush that Ngati-Kahungunu destroyed the war party of Ngati-Huri, as already mentioned.

When Nga-Potiki attacked the O-putara pa at Whiri-naki the first time, the assault delivered did not succeed, and they resolved to employ stratagem of a novel kind. They retired to the flat below the pa and performed a most vigorous haka. After some time Hape-marama, the chief of the fort, came forth from the defences to watch the performance. To obtain a better view he and others came down the - 227 hill. They were cut off and slain by Tuhoe, who soon took the fort after the chiefs fell. Hape has ever since been known as Hape-ware, Hape the Careless. The body of the chief, Aro-a-kapa, was rolled over the cliff, a place since known as Te Takatakanga, where, two centuries later, the descendants of Hape faced the warriors of Ngati-Maru.

When Ngati-Awa advanced on Te Kauna they sent forward a hunuhunu, who succeeded in capturing one Whati at Paetawa, but Tuhoe preferred not to be drawn into the ambushes of the Sons of Awa, and so awaited them at Te Kauna, near Pawairoto.

To unmask an ambush is known as hurahura kokoti. When Colonel Whitmore's force was marching over the forest ranges from Ahi-kereru to Rua-tahuna, the Arawa Contingent fired vollies into every place they thought might possibly conceal an ambush. That was a hurahura kokoti. The force had already encountered one ambush at Manawa-hiwi and were not desirous of falling into another. As they passed over the Tahuaroa range, Tuhoe were in ambush on the Umu-roa trail, but the column marched to Kākā-nui, and hence escaped it.

When Tuhoe attacked the Pohatu-nui pa of Ngati-Kahungunu they executed a takiri, falling back in apparent confusion, with the object of luring the garrison out of the pa to pursue them, which they did. Tuhoe slipped aside one by one, and let the enemy advance unmolested. Ruru of Tuhoe killed one of the enemy, and taking the dead man's huata (spear) he impersonated him for some time.

Scouting, Etc.

Scouting was an important item in Maori warfare, and no better men may be found for that dangerous duty. Born and raised in a land of dense forests, swamps and fern-clad plains and hills, the natives are accustomed from their childhood to roaming these waste places of the earth, and finding their way across country in any direction. Skilled in forest lore are they, and keen to note the trend of range and spur and creek. Masters in woodcraft are they.

Scouts are termed toro or tutei or tutai. The matataua means more and will be explained anon.

When an army or war party were marching through hostile country, the scouts would be about half a mile in advance of the mātua or main body. When a scout sights an enemy he may, if another scout be hard by, signal to the same by means of a low whistle, but usually, and more especially in a dangerous country, he would fall back on the mātua who would, after a short consultation, advance on the enemy or lie in ambush and send out a hunuhunu party.

When camped in hostile territory, a party would have sentries posted at certain advantageous places around the camp, such places - 228 being know as putaanga. These watchmen would be stationed often on the edge of the forest, to command a view of approaches.

When the army of Nga-Puhi encamped on the Manawa-ru range at Rua-tahuna, Te Mai-taranui, who was at Maunga-pohatu, sent Te Whetu and Paora Kakauri to invite them to Maunga-pohatu, also sending men to bear presents of food, etc., to Nga-Puhi. These presents of food, sent to meet a coming visitor or guest, are termed a pongaihu or tumahana.

Scouts had sometimes to perform the most dangerous duties, more especially when seeking to discover the nature of the defences of a fort (pa), and the number of fighting men it contained.

When the Arawa were marching on Te Tumu in 1836, they sent forward a scout who, under the cover of night, boldly walked into the pa as a returning occupant would do, and, having had a look around, left as calmly as he had entered.5

The individual known as a mata-taua was a most useful adjunct to a war party. The term mata-taua was not necessarily applicable to a good scout. It implied a man who was watchful at all times, day or night, a keen, observant man; one who can tell, by looking at a man, whether or not he is a brave warrior. If a man eats heartily before a battle the mata-taua class him as a brave man, his heart will not ‘shrink’ in the fray. A mata-taua will tell, from the appearance of a returning war party, whether or not they have been successful. He is likewise clever at reading signs and omens. The mata-taua are literally the ‘eyes of an army.’ The following extract from the archives of Tuhoeland will admirably illustrate our meaning:—

A bitter war was raging between Tuhoe on the one side, and Ngati-Ruapani and Ngati-Kahungunu on the other, during which they raided each other's territories, though most of the fighting took place around Waikare-moana, Tuhoe holding the northern shores thereof and their enemies the southern.

A large force of Tuhoe was marching on the lake to attack the Wairoa people. As they ascended the Huiarau range they met two men of Ngati-Ruapani who were going to Rua-tahuna to fetch six of their tribesmen (probably taharua) who were then living at that place. A famous mata-taua looked at the two men and, turning to Te Ika-poto, a chief of Tuhoe, said—Kua mate a Waikare—“Waikare has fallen,” meaning that the people of Tuhoe living there were slain. Te Ika-poto asked—He aha te tohu?—“What is the sign”? The mata-taua replied—Inahoki te hahana o te kanohi o te tangata nei—“Observe the flushed faces of the men.” He had noted the flush or glow (hahana) in their faces which comes from - 229 excitement, etc., and as they had mentioned nothing of an exciting nature, he knew that they wished to conceal some occurrence which must, obviously, be inimical to the welfare of Tuhoe.

The taua proceeded and, at Te Pakura, met the survivors of the Tikitiki massacre, in which the blood of the women and children of Tuhoe reddened that historic cave and the surrounding waters. The fleeing remnant said: “We have fallen in death. Nothing remains but the drifting waters of Waikare-moana.”

Then Tuhoe rose in anger and grief and swung down the rugged trail to the sea of the rippling waters, and the end was not well for the Sons of Ruapani.


Weapons occupied a prominent place in the arts, thoughts and history of the old time Maori. Being a remarkably warlike people, prompted by strong desire for revenge for the least slight, and mentally cramped by numberless superstitions, it may safely be said that in Maoriland, no man might predict what the day might bring forth A cunning and merciless enemy concealed in forest, scrub or fern—a sudden rush on the toilers in the fields or on an unsuspecting pa, and then—a defeated party fleeing for their lives, or the ovens filled with the bodies of the slain villagers, a band of slaves being hurried along rough trails—a desolate land.

Hence his weapon was the Maori's constant care in the old fighting days, and was always taken with him in travelling between tribal villages, and also generally in hunting expeditions and when engaged in working in the cultivations of sweet potatoes, taro and hue.

The generic term for weapons is rakau. Hapai rakau means ‘to bear arms.’ A man who is skilful in using his weapon, proficient in karo (parrying) and whose blows are sure and deadly, is termed a tangata rakau kawa.

Maori weapons may be divided into three classes:—

  • 1. Thrusting weapons—as spears.
  • 2. Striking weapons—as clubs, &c.
  • 3. Projectile weapons—as tarerarera and reti.

Regarding the materials of which weapons were made we have also three classes:—(1) wood, (2) stone, (3) bone).

In the latter part of the eighteenth century, iron began to be obtained from the early European voyagers. Iron was utilised as spear heads, and formed into patu. Gridirons were eagerly sought after, the bars thereof being formed into barbed points for bird spears. Iron tomahawks were used with either a short or long handle. But the European weapon most sought after was the gun, as we shall see anon.

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We will now proceed to give a list of the weapons as noted:—

Thrusting or Stabbing Weapons.

Puraka; Huata; Turuhi; Tokotoko; Tete.

Such are the names of thrusting spears as collected from the Tuhoe tribe, but the following names of spears occur among other tribes, and are taken from William's Maori Dictionary:—

Tao; Taoroa, (probably the same as the huata); Kaukau; Kokiri; Mātia, a spear resembling a tokotoko.

The terms tao and taoroa are not applied to fighting spears in Tuhoeland, but only to the long, fragile bird spears which are made from the light but brash wood of the tawa tree. The taoroa of other tribes would be the huata of Tuhoe. Yet another spear is the Koikoi.

Striking Weapons.

Mere or Meremere, Kotiate, Patu pora, Mata kautete, Mira tuatini, (generic term pătu); Toki, (of various kinds); Taiaha, (also used as a thrusting weapon); Paiaka; Hoeroa, (also used as a thrusting weapon); Pouwhenua, (also used as a thrusting weapon); Huakau.

Of the above the hoeroa might also be included among projectile weapons in as much as it is not only used for striking, but is also thrown at an adversary, being recovered by means of a cord.

Projectile Weapons.

Tarerarera; Reti; Hoeroa.

Williams gives timata as being a dart or short spear for throwing. Ngati-Awa give timata, a thrusting spear eight or nine feet in length. He also gives pere, an arrow or dart thrown by means of a thong attached to a stick, this is the Tuhoean tarerarera.

John White gives an illustration (A.H.M. Vol. 3. P. 66) of a weapon termed kotaha kurutai, which looks like a spear head with cord attached for throwing. I have not been able to obtain any information concerning this weapon. Kotaha among Tuhoe means a sling, used by children for throwing stones.

Two other names of weapons given by Williams are Tōrōwai and Tuniere.

We will now give some description of these various weapons, their manufacture, and the materials of which they were made.

It may be here remarked that ancient Maori-land was no place for idlers. Labour was the salvation of man, and a considerable portion of the time of these neolithic communists was devoted to the endless task of fashioning weapons, implements and ornaments from wood, stone and bone. The labour involved in the manufacture of stone weapons was enormous. Most finely finished and polished toki (adzes) and patu (weapons) were formed from rough blocks of the hardest stone, - 231 by the most primitive appliances, viz., a grinding process by means of hand rubbing with a piece of sandstone, the work being expedited by the use of sand grit and water. The only mechanical appliance evolved by these workers of stone appears to be the tuiri, an implement used for boring holes in stone weapons, &c. A well finished mere represented years of labour.

We commence with the thrusting or stabbing spears:—

Puraka.—This weapon resembled an enlarged matarau or eel spear. The shaft was made of manuka wood, and was about eight feet in length. At the business end of this shaft were securely fastened three or four points or tines (mata) fashioned from mapara, the hard resinous wood of the kahikatea (podocarpus dacrydioides), the white pine of the settlers. The puraka thus resembled a large fork, and was used for stabbing purposes. It was also used to take the bodies of drowned persons from the water.

In regard to the timbers used for the manufacture of weapons: The desired qualities being strength, hardness and durability, the woods used were those of the ăkĕ (dodonea viscosa), the măirĕ, both black and white (santalum Cunninghamii, &c.), the dark heart wood of the former being very dense and hard, the mānŭkă or kăhĭkāt˘a (leptospermum scoparium) and the māpără above mentioned. Of these the ake was specially famed, and sought after, it being both hard and tough. I have noted the word ake as being used as a generic term for weapons in songs and proverbial sayings. The maire was also much used, the roots thereof were more especially prized, weapons made of the same being less liable to fracture than those fashioned from the wood of the trunk of the tree. As a general rule spears were made of manuka, and wooden striking weapons of ake and maire. This rule, however, would be liable to be affected by local conditions.

So durable a timber is the maire that the following saying applied to it, “He maire tu wao ma te toki e tua” would seem to imply that only by the axe can that tree be brought low.

The manuka has ever been a most useful tree to the Maori, on account of its habitat being a far-reaching one. The large growing variety of manuka developes, in a suitable locality, into a fine, straight true-grained tree, from which were obtained huata, spears of great length. But hardest of all these timbers is the māpără, a term applied, not to a tree, but to the hard resinous interior wood of that species of kahikatea, known to bushmen as yellow pine. The mapara takes, and carries, the finest point of any of the above woods, and it is not necessary to harden the points of such weapons by fire, as is the case with the manuka. Spear shafts were not formed of this wood, but it was used as spear heads or points, the same being securely lashed on - 232 to a shaft of manuka or some other wood, as in the case of the tete and puraka spears, and also the eel spear. The black maire is the dread of the bushfeller, but the koiki mapara is as a nightmare to him.

Huata.—This is the longest fighting spear of Maoridom. It was from eighteen to twenty-five feet in length, and was much used in the defence and attack of the old Maori forts (pa). In such a defence the huata was used by one man who inserted his spear between the palisades of the defence, using the horizontal rail (huahua) of the palisading as a rest (pae) for same. But in fighting outside two men were needed to manipulate the somewhat cumbrous huata, one towards the forward end of the spear, who acted as a pae, or rest, by loosely holding the spear, the other man at the butt end doing the thrusting. When fighting in the open, the users of the huata would remain behind the front ranks, who were armed with shorter weapons, the long huata being thrust forward between the men in front, as a man using a huata could not well defend himself.

In attacking a village, these spears were used to slay persons within their houses, by thrusting the spears through the roof of thatch or bark. So fell many of Ngati-Huri at the fall of the Papakai pa.

The long huata were also used when attacking a fort, to fire the houses inside the defences, and to render the place untenable. A bunch of dry fern or grass would be fastened to the end of the spear and set fire to, the spear being thrust over or through the palisades, and the fiery point brought in contact with the dry thatch of the houses. In this manner the Oputara pa at Whirinaki fell to Tuhoe.

Huata were made of manuka timber, not a sapling, but split out of a large, straight-grained tree, and dressed down by means of stone adzes (toki) with an infinite amount of labour and care, until the round symmetrical shaft needed but to be polished by means of being rubbed with sandstone (tunaeke), the point of the spear being hardened by fire. When not in use these and other spears were kept hung up in the houses, probably suspended from the roof, where they soon became intensely black from the soot of the fires below. The huata and tokotoko spears were not barbed. In travelling, the long huata were held in one hand and trailed behind, dragged as the long bird spears were.

These huata had a round knob on the butt end, this knob being termed reke or pureke and to which was fastened a bunch of the long hair of the tail of the native dog (he mea putoi a muri ki te waero). Reke is also applied to the butt end of a knob of a patu, where the wrist thong is fastened. The terms reke, rekereke, koreke, and pureke are all allied, and mean the butt, heel, after part, back or poll of axe, &c. The actual term to describe such a knob as that of the reke of a huata, is purori.

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There are many terms used to denote the various modes of holding and using a huata—as awhipapa, to advance in a stooping attitude and dragging the huata behind. Also the terms amo, whitiapu, ahei, pitongitongi, hiki and kuku-a-mata have each their signification.

Of the turuhi spear I have no explanatory notes. It was an ancient weapon, but was probably one of the first to fall into disuse. Only a few of the oldest men of Tuhoe-land remember the name.6

Tokotoko.—This is often termed the ‘short huata’ by natives. Among many tribes the name is applied to a walking stick or staff, but this latter is termed turupou among the Tuhoe tribes. I use the word staff because the Maori did not formerly use a short walking stick, grasped at the top, but a comparatively long staff which was grasped with the flat hand about two feet from the top thereof.

The tokotoko was pointed at one end, the point being hardened by fire. It was made of manuka wood and was about two mārō in length, (mārō=a fathom, measure of extended arms) or say ten to twelve feet. Some would appear to have been shorter, if used as walking staffs, as some of the old men state. They were furnished with a pureke as in the case of the long huata. The various guards and passes of the tokotoko were known as takiwhenua, ahei, whitiapu, kotuku and hiki.

Tete.—This was a different type of spear. It was a short stabbing spear, about seven feet in length, the shaft being of manuka wood, to which was fastened a sharpened head or point of mapara or of human or whale bone, hence its name of tĕtĕ (from kătĕtĕ=to lengthen by adding a piece). The end of the shaft was grooved to receive the head or point, which was lashed on in a most secure manner. I am also informed that this attached point was barbed to prevent the stricken person escaping, as was sometimes the case when a huata or tokotoko was used. Given the fact of a man being impaled upon a barbed tete, he could be held fast. As with other weapons the tete was made smooth by vigorous rubbing with sand-stone or sand. It was often ornamented with a bunch of awe or dog's hair fastened on by the lashing of the head.7

Koikoi.—The koikoi was a double-pointed, short spear of manuka wood, and was seven to eight feet long, pointed at both ends.

When the early voyagers beneath the Taki o Autahi (Southern Cross) began to visit these shores of Aotea-roa, any scrap of iron was eagerly received by the natives, and spear heads were formed from a piece of - 234 bar iron or anything suitable, by a slow process of grinding or rubbing on sandstone sprinkled with grit and water.

We will now look at the striking weapons, taking first the short weapons, such as were used with one hand, and which may be classed under the three headings of (1) Mere, (2) Patu and (3) Toki.

The term mere or meremere is, in Tuhoe-land, applied to the short, one-handed weapons with one striking edge, but is in some other districts applied to the short, two-edged weapons, known in Tuhoe-land as patu. These short weapons, mere or patu, are about twelve inches in length, sometimes longer. They are used in hand to hand fighting, and even if a warrior fought with spear or taiaha, hoeroa or pouwhenua, he usually used patu or mere to despatch an enemy, after such enemy had fallen or become impaled.

These mere of one striking edge were flat or slightly convex weapons and with a fairly keen edge. The back of the weapon was curved or hollowed or carved in some design. They were made of dense, heavy wood, as ake or maire, or of the bone of the sperm whale (părāoă), indeed the word paraoa was often used to denote a weapon made of such bones. I believe that ‘paraoa-roa a weapon made of a whale's rib,’ as given in Williams' Dictionary, is but another name for the hoeroa or tatu paraoa, to be hereinafter described. I have never seen one of the short, one-edged weapons, as above described, made of stone. Of this one-edged class was the kotiate.

The mata-kautete is a short, saw-like weapon made by fastening sharks' teeth to a wooden haft. Mira-tuatini appears to be another name for the above, but with two jagged edges. Tuhoe did not have these.

We now come to the short, oval bladed, double edged, flattened weapons which we have known as patu. We will put the average length at thirteen inches. They were made of hard volcanic stone, of greenstone and other kinds of stone, as also of bones of the sperm whale (such were termed patu-paraoa), and even in late times of iron (these last known as patu-pora).

The native names of the kinds of stone used for the manufacture of patu and toki, were—kărā, a basaltic rock; uri, a stone somewhat resembling the kărā; onewa, a dark grey stone; tuapaka, a white or gray stone; kurutai, a dark (pango) stone; makahua (he mea whero8). The kărā appears to be the stone known to Ngati-Hau tribe of Whanganui as kororariki. I have heard it stated that onewa is another name for komă, a light-coloured stone of which implements, &c., were made, but Williams gives them as two distinct kinds. Anyhow k˘mă and onewa are both terms applied to toki or patu made of light coloured stone.

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Tuhoe-land appears to have been singularly deficient in stone suitable for implements. These tribes obtained their stone from Wai-kato and the East Coast. The rocks of this district appear to be invariably a kind of slate, much shattered. A famous place for obtaining the dark stone termed uri was on the headwaters of the Waipaoa river in the Poverty Bay district. To obtain a piece of stone wherefrom to fashion an implement, parallel groves would be ground across the surface of the rock by means of a piece of sandstone, used with sand and water. When sufficiently deep, the intervening piece would be split off. This was the first step in the long process. The next was to chip the stone into rough form by means of striking it with a piece of kiripaka (quartz). When chipped into something like the desired size and shape, then began the long process of grinding. It took fully as long to make one of these stone patu as it does to build a modern battle ship.

The chipping implements used to roughly fashion an implement were simply pieces of hard quartz or similar stone (kiripaka) lashed securely to a handle. The piece of stone so used would be chipped to a rough point before being lashed to a handle. Both large and small hammers of this kind were used, the former for cleaving the block of stone to be operated upon, the latter for chipping into the required form. The fastening of the lashing was ingenious and secure (he mea kaui ki te hitau).

In various parts of New Zealand have been seen rocks, the surface of which are covered with grooves where the men of old were wont to perform the tedious grinding or rubbing process by which stone implements were smoothened and made symmetrical. It is indeed marvellous to note how well formed, symmetrical and true in outlin are these stone implements of the Maori.

The kiripaka used by the natives of Tuhoe-land as chippers, points for tuiri, &c. appears to be a kind of barren quartz found in the creek beds.

The patu-pora was so named because the iron wherefrom they were fashioned was obtained from the vessels (pora) of the early European voyagers in these waters, or from the word pora or tangata pora being used to denote those foreigners. The work involved in grinding down a piece of iron to form a patu must have been truly appalling.

I have never heard of a double-edged patu being made of wood.

The patu paraoa, or patu made from the bones of the sperm whale, were much prized, and were strong, handy weapons, not liable to fracture. These were, of course, usually made by coast-dwelling tribes. Tuhoe, being an inland tribe, were cut off from places where whale bones were procurable, as at Te Mahia, hence the few weapons formed of this material that they possessed were mostly taken on the battle-field.

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But dearer unto the heart of the neolithic Maori than all other weapons was the patu-pounamu. The pounamu, or greenstone, was obtainable only on the west coast of the South Island, so far as New Zealand is concerned. It was therefore obtained by the tribes of the north only by means of barter, or by being secured as booty during a raid on a hostile tribe. Both ornaments and weapons of greenstone, as well as rough, unworked blocks of the stone, were given and received as presents on certain occasions, and were also handed over sometimes as payment for some injury inflicted or wrong committed. Again, weapons were often captured from the enemy on the battle-field, or were handed over to cement a peace. The famous greenstone patu known as Hau-kapua was thus handed over to the Government of New Zealand by the Tuhoe tribe at the conclusion of the late war.

Albeit the greenstone is of an intense hardness, yet the indomitable patience and application of the Maori led him to fashion therefrom most beautifully formed and polished weapons and ornaments. In fact, the greenstone represented the precious stones of Maoridom, and a fine ornament of that material was as a pearl above price.

Some years ago I examined a slab of greenstone which had been found in one of the sounds adjacent to Picton, and which was a good illustration of the native method of cutting a slab of stone into the requisite dimensions from which to manufacture a desired implement. One edge showed the deep groove ground on either side of the slab, and the intermediate fracture where the piece had been broken off. The width of the fracture, i.e., the thickness between the two grooves, was about one-third of an inch. Parallel with this edge, and designed to cut off a piece of the stone some four inches in width, was a deep, rounded groove, which had evidently been formed by the usual process of rubbing with a piece of hard grit stone, aided by sand and water. On the reverse was a similar but shallower groove, where, presumably, the lapidary had been interrupted in his work—a broken chapter, the finis whereof is missing—whatever that closing scene may have been: an incursion of Ngai-Tahu from Hataitai, the advent of Te Rauparaha and his desperate band—ko wai ka mohio?9

But concerning the tuiri. All short hand weapons were attached to the wrist by means of a cord of plaited fibre of the harakeke (phormium tenax). In order to effect this a hole was bored through the reke or butt end of the weapon, by means of the tuiri. This is an ingenious contrivance, of which a specimen may be seen in the Auckland museum. We give a crude description thereof:—The upright (pou) is a piece of wood about two feet in length, and three-quarters of an inch in thickness, to the lower end of which is fastened the boring - 237 point (mătă), a piece of kiripaka, or some hard stone, chipped to a rough point. The porotiti, a discoidal piece of heavy wood (maire preferred) is prepared, and a hole made in the centre thereof, through which is passed the pou. It is secured to the latter at about one-third of its height, and is for the purpose of increasing the momentum of the tuiri by its weight. The kurupae is a piece of wood twenty inches in length and two inches wide in the centre, where a hole is made to allow of the pou being passed through it, but not to fit tightly. A cord (aho) of plaited fibre is fastened by the middle to the top of the pou, and the ends made fast to either end of the horizontal kurupae. To operate the tuiri, the boring-point of the pou is set upon the precise part of the stone where a hole is to be bored, the kurupae is turned round until the two cords are twined round the upper part of the upright pou. The twining of the cords raises the kurupae up the pou, up which it slides easily. A downward pressure of the hand on the kurupae now causes it to slide back down the pou and unwinding the cord as it goes, the momentum, increased by the heavy disc, causes the cord to wind round the pou in the opposite direction and again raising the kurupae, which is then pressed down again by the operator. The hand of the operator is kept on the kurupae, but of course only the downward pressure is needed. Sand and water are used to facilitate the work. In light work, such as grooving an ear-drop, &c., only one hand is used to operate the kurupae, but in heavy work, such as boring a patu, both hands are used to give increased force. The boring point of the machine of course needs frequent renewal, or re-chipping to a point.10

The cord is passed through the hole in the patu and the ends tied together. The hand is put through this loop and the patu turned round a few times to cause the cord to twist and close up on the wrist, the hand then grasps the patu just forward of the reke—and that warrior is ready for business, fighting or speech-making.

Old men, past fighting and hard work, passed much of their time in the manufacture of weapons, &c.

Such short weapons as patu or mere were usually carried stuck in the back of the belt or girdle (tatua). Such weapons as the taiaha, hoeroa, &c., were carried in the right hand. Light toki, such as the toki pou tangata, were carried in the girdle, but the large heavy toki were often carried on the back, the handle being passed under the shoulder cloak, the head of the toki being held by the ua, or thick neck band of the cape.

The patu was used in a peculiar manner, a kind of back-handed lunge termed ripi. A direct blow with the patu is termed tipi, such a - 238 blow was given when striking at an enemy while he is running, i.e., from behind (I tipia-taurewatia a mea tangata).

Toki.—The stone toki of the Maori is usually termed an axe by settlers, but the natives had no axe proper, i.e., considering the relative positions of head and helve. In the Maori implement the head was always helved as our adze, though, of course, the haft was not passed through an eye in the head, but the latter lashed on to the former.

These toki were of many sizes. I have a specimen in greenstone two inches in length, and with a face of one-and-a-half inches. The huge toki ngao pae was used for heavy work and roughing out. The toki ngao tu was a medium sized inplement, the toki ngao matariki, a small finishing tool. The toki hohou pu, also known as toki pou tangata and toki whawhao pu, is usually a small toki made of greenstone, and is lashed to a handle highly ornamented with carving. Such toki were carried by influential persons and would be held in the right hand, as a patu or mere is, while delivering a speech. Large toki were also made of greenstone sometimes.

Toki were used not only for dressing timber and other domestic works, but also as weapons of war, being generally used to despatch a foe who has fallen to spear or club. Such weapons were, of course, the medium-sized toki, not the large nor yet the diminutive ones. The toki pou tangata was a favourite weapon.

Many famous toki are mentioned in Maori song and legend, and none more famous than Te Awhiorangi. Other famous ones are Te Manokuha and Kura-matapu. In a written account of the Mātātua migration sent to me by a native, I note this passage:—

“Friend! There were three (famous) toki by which the canoe Mātātua was hewn out:—

Thy axe, O child! (is) Hui-te-rangiora.
Thy axe, O child! (is) Te Atua-haemata.
Thy axe, O child! (is) Te Rakuraku-o-Tawhaki.”

Taiaha.—This favourite and well known weapon is also known as hani and maipi. In length it is about five feet. One end is flat and about two-and-a-half inches wide; this is the striking end and is termed the rau or blade. The other end is carved in the form of a face and tongue, and is known as the arero (tongue). This latter end is embellished with carving, and in olden times was further ornamented by fixing thereto a bunch of red feathers (kura) termed a tauri, under which were fastened bunches of the long white hair (awe) of the ancient Maori dog. So adorned this weapon was called a taiaha-kura. When not in use this end of the taiaha was wrapped round with leaves of the parapara.

This was a favourite weapon in the old fighting days, and warriors were trained until they became remarkably proficient in its use. The - 239 taiaha is frequently referred to in song and story. Old veterans boasted of their skill in using it. “Whakapa dwelt at his home at Rangi-taiki. The word came that Tamaoki had fallen before Nga-Maihi. It found the old man, Whakapa, shaping out a taiaha. He heard the story of the defeat, and said: “Mehemea ko ahau i kona, ko Te Amo-pou ma te arero o taku taiaha, ko Te Hahae ma te rau; penei o raua manawa riro mai ana hei whakau mo taku tamaiti.” (Had I been there I would have slain Te Amo-pou with the tongue end of my taiaha, and Te Hahae with the blade, and have brought their hearts to use in the whakau rite over my child.)

Hence Whakapa led his warriors against the Puketapu pa and met Te Au-whiowhio in single combat, Whakapa struck at Te Au with his taiaha, Te Au warded off the blow with his hoeroa, which the next moment was buried in the body of Whakapa. Then—but no, we will not assault that pa yet, for the signs are not propitious. The gods who live for ever will bid us don the war girdle in their own good time.

When a man armed with a taiaha wished to take advantage of an enemy, he would advance with his weapon at the trail (), the rau (blade) thereof to the rear and lowered close to the earth. When near enough to strike, the rau would be quickly raised and the blow delivered.

The following guards and points were observed in the use of the taiaha:

  • 1. Popotahi—guard. The weapon held vertically before the body, the tongue end down.
  • 2. Whakarehu—the point from the popotahi guard. The lower end of the weapon (i.e., the arero) raised and thrust at adversary. (Either as a feint, or if the point struck the person so much the better, as it would give operator time to recover arms and possibly deliver a blow.)
  • 3. Whitiapu—the stroke (not thrust) from the popotahi guard. The blade (rau) of weapon used as a club.
  • 4. Huanui—a guard. The taiaha held horizontally before the body, the arero end to left.

The point whakarehu and the blow whitiapu were also delivered from the huanui guard.

Paiaka or tewhatewha.—A singular weapon, a round handle about five feet in length, at the end of which is a broad, flat head, something like an axe, and with one edge sharpened. On the head bunches of pigeons' feathers (termed puhipuhi) were tied as an ornament, the quills (tuaka) of feathers being cut away so as not to have the feathers too stiff. This weapon was made from the root of the maire tree, the trunk wood not being suitable, as in delivering a vigorous blow on a hard-headed adversary, the head of the weapon would be liable to split off.

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Pouwhenua.—This weapon resembled a taiaha in appearance but lacked the arero or tongue. It was about the same length and had a similar rau or blade for striking. The other end was sharp and used as a stabbing spear.

Huakau.—This name was applied to any rough, unhewn club or staff used as a weapon.

The singular implement termed a ko, which was used for planting kumara, was sometimes used as a weapon. It was made of maire and was brought to a sharp point at the lower end, and hence would make an effective thrusting weapon, and could also be used as a club, i.e., to deliver a blow, though somewhat long for the latter purpose.

Projectile Weapons.

In projectile weapons the native armoury was decidedly deficient. As Polynesians, the Maori made no use of the bow and arrow in warfare, although some state that it was used as a plaything by children, an extremely doubtful statement. It does not appear in any of the lists of toys, games, &c., of former times, so carefully preserved by the natives. The discovery of an ancient bow, described at 56 Vol. I. Journal of the Polynesian Society, by no means casts discredit on the above statement, inasmuch as it is fairly proved by traditionary evidence that the bow-using Melanesians visited and settled in New Zealand in the long ago. Traces of the admixture of the Melanesian and Polynesian races are most noticeable in various divisions of the Tuhoe tribe.11

Tarerarera or tuku whakarere. So far as my notes extend, this is the only weapon used by the Maori that could be thrown to any distance. It was a rough undressed spear, and was thrown by means of a whip. It is sometimes termed pere by the old men, and also kopere. In describing an assault delivered by the northern tribes under Tuwhare, Te Rau-paraha and others, against a pa near Wellington, one of their number said:—“I a matou e noho ra, e mahi ra i te tohi taua, e koperea mai ana e te iwi o te pa ra a ratou kopere ki a matou”—As we were performing the tohi taua rite (outside the pa) the people of the pa kept casting their kopere at us.

The tarerarera were, as stated, not finished or carefully made spears, but simply a rough throwing spear. Manuka was the favourite wood; small, straight saplings of about one and a quarter inches in diameter, and some nine feet in length. These were trimmed of branchlets and the scaly outer bark, the butt end was sharpened to a point, the same being hardened by fire. At about six - 241 inches back from the point, i.e., where the tapering off (koekoeko) commenced, a deep ring notch (tokari) was made, almost severing the head of the spear. When used with the whip (kotaha), the butt of the spear (small end of sapling) was stuck in the ground, the head raised at the desired angle, and facing the direction of the enemy. The operator, holding the wooden whip handle, to the end of which a cord was attached, loosely hitched the free end of the cord round the body of the spear. By a vigorous swing of the whip, the spear was plucked from the earth and impelled swiftly in the direction it had been laid to. The twist of the cord round the spear withstood the forward ‘pluck,’ but was released by the forward revolving movement of the spear, the operator retaining the whip in his hands. On striking anywhere, the impact caused the head of the spear to break off at the ring notch, thus in striking the human body the head would remain buried in the body, causing a wound from which recovery was extremely doubtful.

I have heard it stated that these casting spears were sometimes pointed with katote (kăkă ponga) the hard, black fibres of the kaponga, or “fern tree” of the colonists, which is of a poisonous nature. Also that this spear was sometimes thrown by hand, as in the siege of a pa (fort). Some natives state that tuku whakarere was applied to such a rough spear thrown by hand, and tarerarera to the one thrown by means of a whip.

Should it so happen that the spear broke not at the notch when cast, it would be then taken and utilised by the enemy. During the battle of Puraho-tangihia, one Korokai, of Tuhoe, repeated the hoa invocation over one of these spears and cast it at the enemy. But he must have offended the gods, inasmuch as the hoa did not act properly on this occasion, the spear missing the mark, and the head thereof remaining intact. It was seized by Tama-i-runa, of Ngati-Kahungunu, who cast it back, slaying Korokai.

Hundreds of these rough spears were kept in the forts of old, in readiness for an attack. Old men spent much of their time in making them.

I am informed by the old natives that when a well organised defence of a pa surrounded by the enemy was made, that the flight of these spears resembled a rain-storm. It is said that the pauku, or pukupuku cloak, already described, was a protection against these spears, that is if the cloak had previously been well soaked in water. The tarerarera were sometimes termed manuka, from the wood of which they were formed. The term kopere was also used to denote the whip among some tribes.

Returning to the bow and arrow: I am told by some of the natives that a bow (whana) of pirita and arrows of fern stalk or a shoot (pihi) of the kaiwhiria, with a point of katote lashed on, were - 242 used by children to kill birds in olden days. This statement does not come from good authorities and is not reliable. The game laws of old were most strict; to poach on the bird preserves of another (known as kai haumi) spelt death swift and certain. No method of taking birds which tended to frighten same would have been allowed. This bow and arrow business is post-pakeha, and no doubt the elderly men of the present time used, or saw used, such bows in their childhood, for the forties saw the introduction of many European ideas, games, implements, &c, into these districts.

The statement that bows were used in order to throw blazing arrows of mapara or pitch pine into a besieged pa, must also be entered as “not proven,” in connection with pre-pakeha days.

An illustration of a spear whip, there termed kotaha, is given at p. 66, White's “Ancient History of the Maori,” vol. 3, as also what appears to be a tete spear with a pointed head lashed to the shaft.

Reti.—This is a weapon concerning which it is impossible to obtain information now. The late chief Te Kowhai informed me that it was a short weapon thrown by hand, something after the style of the weapon depicted in vol. 3, “A. H. M.” referred to above. The reti, however, was pronged, i.e., double-pointed, and the sides of such prongs or tines notched. It was made of ake wood. It was grasped by the hand held at the butt end and thrown at an enemy. A cord was fastened to the butt end and the cord held in the left hand, thus enabling the operator to recover his weapon. The missile weapons of the Maori do not appear to have been by any means brilliant achievements.

Hoeroa or tatu paraoa.—This peculiar weapon was made from the rib of the sperm whale (paraoa) and was about five feet in length, flat and about two inches wide. It was not straight but curved, as may be seen in page of illustrations above quoted. One end was sharpened but not brought to a point, i.e., the full width of the weapon was carried right through to the end, which, however, was tapered in regard to thickness and brought to a fine edge. The hoeroa seems to have been used as a missile weapon and as a stabbing spear, also possibly as a striking weapon. A cord (taura) was secured to a hole in the butt end of the hoeroa, the other end of the cord being fastened to the girdle of the warrior. This enabled him to recover his weapon when cast. As a stabbing or thrusting weapon it would inflict a dreadful wound. It appears to have been thrown with an underhand cast, and is said to have been a most difficult weapon to parry (karo).

Hamiora Pio, an octogenarian of the wandering children of Awa, states:—“He tatu paraoa, he pere tera rakau a mua. He mea here te taura ki muri. Mehemea ka tukua kia rere, kei te mau atu ano te taura i te ringa o te tangata nana i tuku whakarere, tu tonu atu, ka tika te rere e - 243 kore e taea te karo.” (A tatu paraoa, a missile weapon of old. A cord was tied to the after end. When thrown, the man who threw it held the end of the cord in his hand, the weapon striking the enemy. Properly cast, it could not be parried.)12

The timata is described in Williams' Dictionary as a throwing spear, but I have obtained no notes thereon, it is probably the tarerarera.13

The weapon termed wahaika or wahangohi appears to be the same as the tewhatewha or paiaka.

The words whakarehu, whakahopo and whakapoi mean to feint with a weapon.

In war the general rule was that each warrior was armed with one long weapon—as taiaha, paiaka or spear—and one short weapon—as a patu or toki. The former were carried in the right hand, the latter stuck in the girdle. When the tapu of the war god was upon the warrior, he would never carry his weapon in his left hand. The reason is this, that the right side of man is the tama-tane, the male side, the tapu side, the side of life, health and strength; whereas his left side is the tama-wahine, the female side, the noa or common side, the side of death, of sickness or affliction, of weakness. For ever, in the more ancient Maori myths and beliefs, does the female principle personify degradation, death, and misfortune.

In war, should cooked food be passed over or come in contact with a warrior's weapon, that weapon is polluted and has lost all its virtue or piercing power (ka tamaoatia te mătă o te rakau). It will be well for the owner thereof to remain in camp, nor take part in the fray, unless he obtain the services of the priest to avert (whiti or ripa) the trouble.

In regard to the pads or protections used against spear thrusts and known as puapua and whakapuru-tao, I have no notes. The puapua is represented in the volume of illustrations prepared for Mr. White's “Maori History.” The pukupuku-patea and whakangungu-rakau given by Williams, appear to be variant names for the pauku already described.

Warriors fighting with a short weapon, as patu or toki, relied principally on the nimbleness of their legs (te rakanga o nga waewae) in order to avoid blows aimed at them. They were never still during such a combat, but always dodging and jumping about. The left arm was also used in parrying a blow—ma te ringa puapua e karo—the left hand, with the puapua, was used in the parry. This puapua would probably be a garment rolled or tied up into a ball, or wrapped round the arm.

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The term ika tere14 is applied in Tuhoe-land to a war party that has been destroyed by the enemy, it went forth to return no more.

In the good old days of the mana Maori, when war raged up and down the land, and the doleful hooting of the war trumpets sounded throughout the ancient realm of Toi, the wood eater, when the mournful watch songs of the sentinels, high perched within thrice stockaded forts, were answered by the thundering chorus of the war dance, then was it that man looked well to his weapons, nor laid them ever aside. And the favourite patu, lance, or battle-axe that had seen so many warriors go down to Hades from the heights of Haumu—of a verity was it as the apple of his eye to the savage possessor thereof, even as the strings of his heart.

For many famed and noted weapons obtain in Maori history. No weapon that had seen much service was without its name, and on many hinged the stories of famous battles, of noted peace-makings, of slaughters grim and great.

I have in my possession a famous patu known as Te Whiu, which may be freely translated as “the chastiser.” It was taken by the Tuhoe tribe from Te Kareke at the fall of Te Poroa pa at Rua-toki, and was last in the possession of Paora Horomata, of Rua-tahuna.

Te Ate-o-te-whenua was a famous patu paraoa which belonged to Tu-tamure of immortal fame, he to whom fell the great Maunga-a-kahia pa, far away beneath the rising sun.15

When the league of Tuhoe, Ngati-Maru and other tribes raided the east coast to obtain revenge for the slaying of Te Maitaranui and to them fell the Kai-uku pa, some noted patu fell into the hands of the victors, among them being Te Heketua, Te Rama-a-Apakura, Kahawai and Kauae-hurihia.

Valuable weapons were sometimes given wherewith to purchase a person's life in battle, as will be hereinafter described.

The following song of lament or greeting was composed in reference to a famed toki known as Te Atua-whakaniwha, which was given to Tapora-hikitaua by Kahukura-kotare, wife of Ue-nuku-koihu:—

“Kahikatea rakau kei te kakau
E ko kahikatea pounamu,
Tena ia ka riro i te whakatere kauae
Na Koihu. E ko
Nana hoki i muna iho kei muri te tamahana
Kei roto i te whare te taonga whanaunga nei
Maringi iho te roimata.”

Some of the famed weapons of yore were especially noted as being possessed of supernatural powers, and hence were looked upon with awe by the people. Some were looked upon as dumb oracles, inasmuch - 245 as from their appearance, the issue of a battle might be foretold, as in the case of the taiaha of Ngati-Porou, mentioned in Gudgeon's “History of the Maoris” at p. 22.

In the following instance a famous and prized weapon was given to the purchasers of native land in token of, and binding, the transference of the same:—

“At a meeting of natives held at Waikawa, Picton, in 1856, when their lands were sold to the Europeans, Te One (a chief) struck into the ground at the feet of the Commissioner a greenstone axe, saying:—‘Now that we have for ever launched this land into the sea, we hereby make over to you this axe, named Paewhenua, which we have always highly prized from having regained it in battle after it was used by our enemies to kill two of our most celebrated chiefs. Money vanishes and disappears, but this greenstone will endure as a lasting witness of our act, as the land itself, which we have now, under the shining sun of this day, transferred to you for ever.’”

The quickness of hand and eye possessed by the Maori stood him in good stead in the old fighting days before firearms were known. At guard and parry they were most efficient, a man who could karo well was sure to win applause at their trials of skill. Here I must really make a quotation from Mr. Wilson's “Story of Te Waharoa,” it is such an excellent illustration:—

“. . . . the first man of the fight appeared. He was a naked, square-built, powerful, dark-complexioned, forbidding looking fellow, who, eager for the fray, had outstripped his companions—on he came, dripping with the rain, with his left arm en garde, wound round with a mat, and his right hand tightly clutching a short tomahawk, he was too intent on entering the hut to perceive the missionary, who stood near and watched his movements. He did not go straight in at the doorway, as a measured blow might have been dealt him, but suddenly he leaped obliquely through it, making at the same time a ward to defend himself.”

Now I will tell of Paerau, a renowned chief and warrior of Tuhoe. Full many a fight with Maori and pakeha had old Paerau seen, from the bloody field of Te Kauna even to the fall of O-rangi-kawa. Versed was he in the arts of old, physical and sacerdotal, whereby the warrior may achieve fame, render his weapon efficient, and confound his enemies. Skilled in the use of weapons, past master in the art of karo (karo—to parry, avoid a blow). But when the old Ika-a-Whiro, in his declining years, journeyed to Napier to view the wondrous fire-canoe of the pakeha—it was then that Paerau, of the fighting Tu-matawhero, fell.

They got him aboard the train all right and, as she pulled slowly out of the depot, he seemed to think it a very good sort of canoe. But - 246 when the driver opened her out, and Paerau saw the whole world flashing past him in dread flight, he became alarmed. He put his head out of window and gazed at this new and awe-inspiring sight. Aue! A frightful weapon is hurled at him. With the instinct of the trained fighter the old warrior lifted his arm to guard the blow—not in vain had this Son of Tu been trained in the arts of war, the parry was successful—and the telegraph pole flashed past to the rear. With a sigh of relief, but with dread forebodings in his heart, he lowered his guard. Aue! te mamae roa! Another fell weapon of god or man is about to sweep him from the earth, but another karo is successful, and pole number two sweeps backward to the sea.

She pulled into the next station in safety, but Paerau had had enough. Paerau the fearless, the most renowned fighter of Tuhoe, from the days of Te Ika-poto and the scourge of the Pu-taewa, he who looked the shining sun in the eye and lowered his own for no man from the dark cañons of Parahaki to the shores of the Sea of Toi—he quailed before the awful works of the pakeha and their wondrous gods.

(To be continued.)

1  Same as the taua hiku toto.
2  From “Story of Te Waharoa,” by J. A. Wilson.
3  i.e. “Dash in! Charge!”
4  i.e., “The decoy goes forth and the ambush is laid.”
5  This incident is taken from Mr. Wilson's “Story of Te Waharoa.”
6  The only turuhi we ever saw was about 6 ft. long, of which about 2 ft. 6 in formed a broad blade 2½ in. wide and ¾ in. thick.—Ed.
7  The tete-whai is also a Maori weapon of the same kind, but in which the barbed point is made of the sting of the sting-ray (whai).—Ed.
8  i.e. Brown or reddish.
9  i.e., Quien sabe—who knows.
10  The boring was done on both sides, meeting in the centre.
11  This statement does not of course imply that there was a Melanesian race here before the Maoris—a theory lately promulgated, but without any authority, in our opinion.—Ed.
12  In the north, the hoeroa was the weapon used, with which to inflict the frightful death by impalement on the female prisoners.—Ed.
13  It is the same as the koikoi.Ed.
14  Ika tere—drifting fish.
15  See J.P.S., vol. i. p. 147.