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History of the Taiaha History of the Taiaha

Posted on by Lesley Armstrong

A taiaha is an elaborately carved staff, reminiscent of a spear, with a head (upoko) and tongue (arero). The Maori Taiaha was usually adorned with feathers and dog hair around the neck of the staff in an attempt to distract the opponent. Being a long handled weapon, it was used for stabbing, warding off blows and striking.

Children were taught the techniques of warfare from an early age. Games were often centered around warfare, to improve balance, speed and overall motility. Reeds were used in place of a staff to learn the arts of Mau Rakau (“to bear a weapon”). The Maori Taiaha was seen as the ultimate weapon to yield, as that is what the Chief used.

Just as much a symbol of status as it was a deadly and powerful weapon, the Taiaha was used by Chiefs. Often a Karakia (prayer) was said before warfare to ensure its effectiveness and to imbue the strength of the gods within the Taiaha.

Not only a weapon though, the Taiaha was a Taonga, (a precious treasure or heirloom) handed down through generations and was often given a name, and with its descendants, followed the stories of the Taiaha.

Greenstone Taiaha

A taiaha is an elaborately carved staff, reminiscent of a spear, with a head (upoko) and tongue (arero). The Maori Taiaha was usually adorned with feathers and dog hair around the neck of the staff in an attempt to distract the opponent. Being a long handled weapon, it was used for stabbing, warding off blows and striking.

Children were taught the techniques of warfare from an early age. Games were often centered around warfare, to improve balance, speed and overall motility. Reeds were used in place of a staff to learn the arts of Mau Rakau (“to bear a weapon”). The Maori Taiaha was seen as the ultimate weapon to yield, as that is what the Chief used.

Just as much a symbol of status as it was a deadly and powerful weapon, the Taiaha was used by Chiefs. Often a Karakia (prayer) was said before warfare to ensure its effectiveness and to imbue the strength of the gods within the Taiaha.

Not only a weapon though, the Taiaha was a Taonga, (a precious treasure or heirloom) handed down through generations and was often given a name, and with its descendants, followed the stories of the Taiaha.

Greenstone Taiaha

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