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Basalt patu collected by James Cook and John Webber, on display at Bern Historical Museum.
Mete Kingi Te Rangi Paetahi, circa 1869 by unknown photographer. National Library of New Zealand (1/2-058461-F)

A patu is a club or pounder used by the Māori, the indigenous people of New Zealand. The word patu in the Māori language means to strike, hit, beat, or subdue.[1]


These types of short-handled clubs were mainly used as a striking weapon. The blow administered with this weapon was a horizontal thrust straight from the shoulder at the enemy’s temple. If the foe could be grasped by the hair then the patu would be driven up under the ribs or jaw. Patu were made from hardwood, whale bone, or stone. The most prestigious material for the patu was pounamu (greenstone). Patu made from pounamu were generally called "mere". Maori decorated the patu by carving into the wood, bone or stone.

Types of patu include:

  • patu pounamu or mere: made from pounamu (greenstone).
  • patu onewa: made of stone. These resemble the mere in outline but thicker, because the stone used was more easily broken than the resilient pounamu.
  • patu paraoa: made of whale bone[2]
  • patu tawaka and patuki: made from wood. Other styles of short handled wooden clubs include the kotiate and wahaika.

Less traditional is the rare patu pora, made from iron[3] and the hatchet (patiti).[4]


Types of nonweapon patu include:

  • patu muka: a pounder used to soften flax fibre (muka) in preparation for weaving.[5]
  • patu aruhe: a pounder used to break up edible fern roots for food.[6]


  1. ^ "Maori Dictionary". Te Aka Māori-English, English-Māori Dictionary and Index Online. Pearson. Archived from the original on 25 April 2012. Retrieved 20 November 2011.
  2. ^ "Patu parāoa". Te Papa. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
  3. ^ "Paya pora", Journal of the Polynesian Society, volume 39, 1930
  4. ^ "Object: Patiti (hatchet)". Te Papa. Retrieved 20 June 2017.
  5. ^ "Patu muka (flax pounder)". Te Papa. Retrieved 20 June 2017.
  6. ^ "Patu aruhe (fernroot beater)". Te Ara. Retrieved 20 June 2017.

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