Story: Mau rākau – Māori use of weaponry

Karakia to empower a weapon

Young Ngāti Whātua chief Tamakihi holds a taiaha in this 1847 lithograph, standing in front of his uncle Āpihai Te Kawau. The following Ngāti Whātua reo tao is a karakia said over a weapon to ensure its effectiveness in warfare:

Tītoko māpuna, huaki rere, Te mangō taha rua, I rere ai te tapuae, I nguha ai te tapuae, I taka toto ai to tapuae, Tēnei hoki te tapuae ka rūmaki Ko tapuae o Tū. Hīkoia te whetū! Hīkoia te marama! Ka rere! ka rere! Ko te atawhaia.

The quivering spear, to surprise in flight, Like the double-sided shark, Is the fleetness of the footsteps, Is the raging of the footsteps, In blood are the footsteps, Here are the footsteps' headlong rush, The footsteps of Tū. Stride over the stars! Stride over the moon! Flee! Take flight! Now the death-stroke.

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: PUBL-0014-56
Hand-coloured lithograph by George French Angas

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Rangi Matamua, 'Mau rākau – Māori use of weaponry - Weapons training', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 29 May 2024)

Story by Rangi Matamua, published 5 Sep 2013