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Long Club (Taiaha)

The taiaha was the preferred weapon of the Maori in warfare. It was constructed from a tough, single piece of wood, often weighing only one or two pounds. Gripped with two hands, the taiaha could be used for parrying, stabbing, and striking. The pointed end would be used to poke the opponent, and then, when the moment was right, the taiaha would be reversed and the blade used to crack the enemy’s skull.

The point of the club, which represents the warrior’s defiantly out-thrust tongue, is carved in a spiraling rauponga pattern. The pattern is created from a set of parallel grooves (haehae) that run alongside a set of dog tooth notches (pakati).

This was a common motif in Maori carving, which was often derived from shapes found in nature: the rauponga resembles the spiral fronds of a tree fern. In Maori, rau means “leaf” and ponga means “tree fern” (Cyathea dealbata).

-Patrick Turevon, Class of '06