Maka or throwing stones: effective Niuean weapons

Maka or throwing stones: effective Niuean weapons

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.

Maka or throwing/war stone from Niue; Te Papa; Gift of Sarah Kinsey, 1936

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.


  1. What a good sit but where is the info about the fua ulu misi

  2. hi… I’m a niuean girl and im trying to find out about my own culture as i dont know much and im wondering if there are more niuean weapons or other important stuff .. 🙂 this is very interesting though :):)

  3. I am the scholar who requested the information on the maka (throwing stones). if any readers know of examples in private collections, please let me know.

  4. It was promised and almost delivered by the last NZ Labour Govenment that a repository of such items would be built – and indeed has been architecturally designed – so that such Taogo could one day be repatriated. Alas something went wrong somewhere and so these objects are safe for now with Te Papa for the time being along with a number of far more interesting objects protected in private collections waiting to be returned to the Homeland when intelligence finally prevails there.

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