Maori Warriors were some of the fiercest warriors the world has ever known.
Their bravery and savageness is legendary. Throughout history war was an
Important part of Maori life. Conflicts over land and insults of any type were
the main catalyst for war. Also, as Europeans began to settle New Zealand wars
broke out against them. War among the Maori became an endless cycle, upon defeat the
losing side would feel obligated to restore its pride (mana).
The War Party
The Maori fighting unit was called a hapu. A hapu rarely consisted of more than a few
hundred warriors, often numbering less than one hundred. Most of the warriors were men
but women were also know to fight. Often several hapu
joined forces in battle. When more than one hapu did join forces they would not coordinate
the battle together, each would basically do as its chief dictated. This lack of coordination
hurt their effort and could lead to defeat by a smaller war party.
The warriors were usually lead by a chief. The chiefs main job was to motivate his warriors
to move forward. The chief was a huge motivational force and if he were killed or wounded
the warriors would usually retreat, even if on the verge of victory.
Warriors would usually travel to the battle by foot and usually in single file due to the narrow
paths they traveled. Sometimes they would travel in large canoes in order to get to the battle.
The Maori Warriors Strategy
The main strategy employed by the Maori was ambush or surprise attack. They would quietly work their
way close to the enemy and then launch a quick and deadly attack. Dawn was the favorite time to attack
because it helped the warriors approach undetected. So important was the eliminate of surprise that if
it was discovered that the enemy was aware of their approach the warriors would often postpone the attack.
They also used other surprise attack
techniques. For example the warriors might pretend to be on a hunting or gathering trip and work their
way close to the targeted village. When close enough they would spring their attack on the expecting adversary. They were also known
to attack other tribes that had been invited as guest or that were hosting a ceremony.
Upon victory the Maori would usually kill all of the enemy, who were not lucky enough to have escaped,
in fear of revenge (utu).
Weapons used by the Maori Warriors
Below we have listed the main weapons use by the Maori.
For more information about these weapons click here Maori weapons
The Maori were trained to be warriors from an early age. They used sticks to practice
spear thrust and padded weapons to train for combat. They learned to wrestle, box, throw rocks, and run.
Before going into battle the Maori warriors would get prepared in several ways. This usually included
abstinence of certain foods and practices and the performance of a war dance (haka).
During this dance the Maori would wave weapons, stick out their tongues, bulge out their eyes, wave weapons, and
grunt. This dance was very important, the tribal elders would watch it and if the haka was not performed
correctly it could be considered a bad omen for the upcoming war.