13. Mau Rākau - Māori Weaponry

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Māori weapons are both taonga or treasures as well as practical fighting equipment. Many are prized heirlooms with personal names. Taiaha – the long spears with a carved head on top – were used by rangatira and other important people. Taiaha were also decorated with feathers. The one to the right of the case has special kākā feathers and dog hair attached to it.

Rākau are divided into two types – those with long handles and those with short handles. Walk around the case to get a good look at the different kinds. They are made from a wide range of materials including pounamu or greenstone, parāoa or whalebone or wood. Fighting was not just about weapons, and a warrior would undergo training that included the accompanying footwork, drills, formations, moves, stances, and protocols.

When Europeans brought muskets and other guns to Aotearoa, this changed everything for Māori warfare. Māori saw the advantage of firearms, and hand-to-hand combat was replaced by muskets.

Turn around for the timeline and films about the Treaty of Waitangi at stop 14, a living document that has shaped the evolution of Aotearoa. Here’s a good point to take a seat and listen in.

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