The weapon itself features a 5-6 foot long hardwood shaft of ovular cross-section, tapering from a flat blade (rau) at one end, to a point at the other. The shape and decorations of the weapon are considered to represent those of a stylised human body. The spear-like point is known as the arero or tongue, and is likened to the protruding tongue of Tu Matauenga, the God of War. Both blade and point are traditionally fire-hardened and are nearly as sharp as steel.
The section of the shaft immediately above the arero features stylised eyes and a mouth, carved out of wood and inlaid with paua shell, a decorative sea-shell similar to abalone. A bunch of feathers forms a ruff around the neck of the weapon.