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Tukukino, 1878 by Gottfried Lindauer, oil on canvas. Gift of Mr H E Partridge, 1915. Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki (1915/2/56)

A tewhatewha is a long-handled Māori club weapon shaped like an axe.


Like pouwhenua and taiaha, this long club was designed for sparring and lightning strokes and thrusts, aided by quick footwork on the part of the wielder.[1] The blows were not struck with the blade as one would with an axe, but rather with the thicker straight front edge. It was common for tewhatewha to be decorated with a bunch of split pigeon or hawk feathers which hang from a drilled hole near the lower edge of the extension. This decoration may have also had the added benefit of distracting or confusing the wielder's opponent.[1]

Pei Te Hurinui Jones (1898-1976) holding tewhatewha. Detail of King Koroki Te Rata Mahuta Tawhiao Potatau Te Wherowhero and others by unknown photographer. Alexander Turnbull Library (PAColl-0671-01)

Modern use[edit]

A tewhatewha was the symbol of command of Royal New Zealand Navy hydrographic survey ship HMNZS Resolution.[2]

The drum major of the New Zealand Army Band uses a tewhatewha instead of a mace to give direction and keep time.

See also[edit]

Other Māori weapons[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b Hiroa, Te Rangi (1949). "Long Clubs". The Coming of the Maori. Maori Purposes Fund Board. Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  2. ^ "Final Farewell for Navy Survey Vessel". New Zealand Defence Force. 26 April 2012.