Traditionally a fine weapon was not only a prized possession but an insignia of rank, as well as being used for hand-to-hand combat. The brandishing of these weapons, particularly long clubs, are an important part of haka (war dances) performed by men. Those making individual speeches also carry a prized weapon, very often a short club, using practiced strokes to emphasise comments.
Short Club (patu)
One of the most beautiful Māori weapons is the patu (short club). These flat weapons with an oval blade vary in shape and ornamentation according to the material used and expertise of the carver. Of these short weapons, the club known as 'mere' was most generally used. The blow administered with this type of weapon was a horizontal thrust straight from the shoulder at the enemy’s temple. If the foe could be grasped by the hair then the club would be driven up under the ribs or jaw. The preferred material for the mere was pounamu (greenstone) but they were also fashioned from ordinary stone, whalebone and wood.
Walking Stick (tokotoko)
Today, a walking stick (tokotoko) is used almost invariably during formal speeches instead of weapons. Well-carved specimens are prized by those elders holding the right to stand and speak in public. In former times tokotoko carried notched carvings which successive generations of the owners could use to help them recite their genealogy, an important requirement for expert formal speakers.