For the last few months, the Pacific team have been auditing the Niue collection, where objects are photographed, and the catalogue record updated. Niue also known as Nuku-tu-taha is located between Tonga and the Cook Islands. We had an enquiry from a scholar who was researching throwing techniques, and was interested in Niuean maka or throwing stones, that were used in warfare.
This enquiry helped us to think about the function of these stones in warfare, and the patience required in smoothing out each piece. In battle, maka, usually made from stalactite, were first thrown to the enemy, followed by a close encounter using a club or a spear. The painstaking task of smoothing out each stone, illustrates the accuracy and precision required to make an effective weapon.
Why were these stones painstakingly made, if potentially they could be lost once thrown? In the collection, 12 maka were collected by New Zealand photographer Sir Joseph Kinsey, and one presented to the museum by Reverend John Inglis in 1869.