Wero literally means - ´to cast a spear´
and the purpose of the wero was to find out whether
the manuhiri came in peace or in war. The wero is always issued by a tane,
who should be the best in weapons, as the mana of the
marae rests on his shoulders.
The taki is the name given to the challenge dart, which is placed before the manuhiri. It can be a twig, a carved dart or a weapon. If the taki is a weapon, the person picking it up must be careful not to pick it up by the handle as this would indicate war-like intentions to the tangata whenua. Since Tohu and Te Whiti, the Taranaki people usually put down the Raukura, the white feather that is a symbol of peace. A wero may be issued to a wahine of rank but the taki must always be picked up by a tane of her party.
On a full ceremonial occasion, there a three challenges, the first is the Rakau Whakaara (warning challenger), the second is the Rakau Takoto and the third is the Rakau Whakawaha. Those that have been chosen to do the wero for their marae or their people, should be well versed in the implications of the wero before they ever take part in one. The full significance of the wero stems from the traditional need of the marae to determine the intent of their manuhiri. This was done without any physical contact between the tangata whenua and the manuhiri, but it was done through a spiritual awareness of the actions of people and their responses.