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Two Māori men wielding taiaha.

A Taiaha (Māori pronunciation: [ˈtaiaha]) is a traditional weapon of the Māori of New Zealand.

It is a wooden, or sometimes whale bone, close quarters, staff weapon used for short sharp strikes or stabbing thrusts with quick footwork on the part of the wielder.[1] Taiaha are usually between 5 to 6 feet (1.5 to 1.8 m) in length. It has three main parts: the arero (tongue), used for stabbing the opponent and parrying, the upoko (head), the base from which the tongue protrudes, and the ate (liver) or tinana (body), the long flat blade which is also used for striking and parrying.[2]

Portrait of Te Rangi Hīroa (Peter Henry Buck) dressed in Maori costume and holding a taiaha 1930s.
Arero 's detail


Mau rakau is the martial art that teaches the use of the taiaha and other Māori weapons in combat. As with other martial arts styles, students of the taiaha spend years mastering the skills of timing, balance and co-ordination necessary to wield the weapon effectively. The taiaha is widely known due to its use in the wero — the traditional Māori challenge during the Pōwhiri (formal welcoming ceremony). A wero is commonly given to heads of state and visiting dignitaries welcomed to New Zealand.

The taiaha is one of many cultural items which are used to introduce children in school to Māori culture. They are also used in present-day kapa haka competitions, and training with the taiaha is seen as part of the Māori cultural revival.[3]

Popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]

Other Māori weapons:


  1. ^ Hiroa, Te Rangi (1949). "Long Clubs". The Coming of the Maori. Māori Purposes Fund Board. Retrieved 19 November 2011. 
  2. ^ "Taiaha (long club fighting staff)". Collections Online. Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Retrieved 19 November 2011. 
  3. ^ "Rangatira: Pita Sharples". New Zealand On Screen. NZ On Air. 1997. Retrieved 19 November 2011. 
  4. ^ "The Army Badge". NZ Army. NZ Army. Retrieved 19 November 2011. 
  5. ^ "Coat of Arms". Ministry for Culture & Heritage. Ministry for Culture & Heritage. Retrieved 19 November 2011. 
  6. ^ http://tvnz.co.nz/new-zealands-got-talent/jgeeks-5136118

External links[edit]