Welcome to Tonga and Samoa

Coconut Stalk Club (uatongi)

This type of club, the shape of which is derived from the coconut palm leaf stem, was introduced from Tonga to Samoa, where it was called uatongi. The most prominent feature of this Samoan version of the club is the five groups of carved chevron-shaped ridges, which diminish in size from the top to the base of the blade. The process of carving away wood to create the ridges is called tongi or tongitongi. In this case the ridges become sharp points at the edges of the club, which strengthened the blade and increased its effectiveness as a weapon.

In Samoa, as in Tonga, the coconut leaf stalk was used in sport fighting and ceremonial matches. In these matches, the heavy stalk was used to deliver diagonal blows to the opponent. There was little footwork or changing of positions, the competitors relying instead on “stand-up fighting” from fixed footholds. This use of the coconut stalk in ceremonial matches influenced the structural pattern of the coconut stalk clubs, for which ironwood (tau in Samoan) was often the material of choice.

-Dahlia Roberts, Class of '06