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Mau rakau, meaning “to bear a weapon”, is a traditional Maori martial art that developed before firearms reached New Zealand.
Mau rakau is a general term referring to the skilled use of weapons. It is said that the use of weapons was taught in the Whare-tu-taua (House or school of war). The term Mau taiaha is used to refer to the use of the taiaha and does not necessarily include the other weapons listed below:
Regular schools are held on Mokoia Island in Lake Rotorua to teach the use of the taiaha.
It is said weapons including the taiaha and patu were handed down by Tane, god of the forest and Tu god of war, the two sons of Rangi-nui and Papatuanuku. The Whare-tu-taua (House of war) is a term which covers the basics of educating young toa (warriors) in the arts of war. The Whare-tu-taua is governed by the god Tu, who represents the human tendency to create wars and conflicts.