This close quarter combat weapon is said to have belonged to Chief Rangiaho. It was taken by a British soldier fighting at Ngatapa Pa in 1869. Its ornate decoration suggests that it is a high status piece. With a name meaning ‘fish-mouth’, the form of the wahaika is unique and distinctive. Backwards-curving hand-clubs were made elsewhere in Polynesia (notably, on Easter Island) but the Maori developed this style to a remarkable degree of refinement. Like the curved slashing swords of Asia, the curved wooden blade along the wahaika’s striking edge created a larger surface that the striking force was applied through during a single blow; wounds were therefore larger. The name is believed to refer to the distinctive notch in the middle of the striking edge, which was used (like the forks in spurred Fijian clubs) to parry an enemy’s club and deflect it, or even disarm him.
|Full Name||hand club|
|Collection Country||New Zealand|
|Production country||New Zealand|
|Collection class||Arms and armour|
|Production year low||1800|
|Production year high||1869|
|Function detail||The piece was taken by Sgt. Howard Strong, Poverty Bay volunteers, on January 6th 1869 in fighting at Ngatapa Pa, Poverty Bay, against the Hau Haus under Te Kooti.|