Apa-apai (’enforcer of respect’)

The square-ended club (apa’apai - ‘enforcer of respect’) was carved from toa wood (Casuarina equisetifolia). Its appearance mimicked the shape of the coconut leaf stem. However, its form symbolises a chief’s legitimate authority and power, hence its name. These high-status clubs were gifted and traded with the commanding officers of European ships. This apa’apai was acquired by Captain Cook on his second or third voyage, later donated by Henry Vaughan to the Museum in 1868.

Object Summary

Museum Number E1206
Simple Name club
Full Name square-ended club
Common Name apa-apai (’enforcer of respect’)
Production country Tonga
Material wood (casuarina)
Collection class Arms and armour
Collection continent Pacific
Collection area/region POLYN
Production continent Oceania
Production year low 1769
Production year high 1777
Function name weapon
Function detail Acquired from the Leverian auction of 1807 by Henry Vaughan’s father and uncle - Henry Vaughan donates to RAMM in 1868. Originally given to Sir Ashton Lever by Captain Cook from his second or third voyage.