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Object: Kotiate (short striking weapon), ’Apanui’

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Title Kotiate (short striking weapon), ’Apanui’
Production Unknown (carver), 1800-1883, Waikato
Materials whale bone
Classification Kotiate, clubs, edged weapons
Technique chip carving
Dimensions Overall: 360mm (Length) x 135mm (Width)
Credit line Sir Walter Buller Collection. Gift of Leo Buller, 1911
Registration number ME002330

The kotiate was a prized weapon and also favoured by chiefs when speech-making. It is a curiously shaped weapon, and noted for the carved notches on either side of the blade. The notches were used in a ripping action. The word kotiate literally means 'to divide, split in two'. Kotiate were usually about thirty-two centimetres in length and made from whale bone, although some were fashioned from hardwood such as akeake and rautangi. The carving on whale bone examples was usually confined to the butt of the handle. Like other mere and patu (hand clubs), kotiate had wrist thongs to wrap around the warrior's hand to ensure the weapon was not lost during battle.

The name of this kotiate is Apanui. It belonged to the second Māori King, Tāwhiao (1825-1894). From the onset of the New Zealand Wars in 1863, Tāwhiao had a strained relationship with the government. From the late 1860s and into the 1870s, a number of meetings were held between Tāwhiao and his advisors and various government officials. However, little progress was made towards reconciliation. In 1878 the Premier George Grey approached Tāwhiao with a proposal, but this too was refused on the advice of his council. In July 1881, however, Tāwhiao suggested a meeting with the Government's representative at Pirongia (now Alexandria) near Hamilton, where he laid down his weapons saying, 'This is the end of warfare on this land.'

Tāwhiao stuck by his pledge and presented Apanui, a symbol of warfare, to Sir Walter Lawry Buller in 1883. Apanui also appears in a Gottfried Lindauer portrait of King Tāwhiao painted in the late 1880s.

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