The literal meaning of wahaika is: ‘waha’ (mouth); and, ‘ika’ (fish). It was specifically named because of the gap on the side of the weapon. Wahaika were used in close hand-to-hand combat to defect blows, and to strike the chest, head and wrist. Many wahaika have a small figure carved on their side called a pūkaiora which represented a tribal war God that would guard over the warrior during battle. The whiti or small head at the end of the handle was also a form of guardian. Wahaika are usually made from native hardwoods or whalebone.