Mākutu is a New Zealand Māori word meaning witchcraft, sorcery, to bewitch; also a spell or incantation. It may also be described as a belief in malignant occult powers possessed by certain people.
According to Best, the belief in mākutu was 'universal and prominent in pre-European times' and acted as 'a disciplinary force in the old days; it was one of the substitutes for civil law that preserved order in a Māori community.' Best adds that the effectiveness of mākutu was heightened by the fact that it could be carried out in secret; the element of uncertainty produced caution on the part of those who might otherwise transgress the laws of the community. It was widely believed that those expert in mākutu were able to use the art to kill people. But there were limits on their freedom to act: should an irresponsible practicer of the dark arts become a nuisance to a tribe, the solution to the problem was simply to kill the errant magician without delay. The training undergone by an apprentice was long and difficult, involving secret rituals and tests 
- Williams, Herbert W., 1975. A Dictionary of the Māori Language. 7th edition. Wellington: Government Printer
- The Maori: Yesterday and To-day Chapter VI. – Makutu: – The Belief in Witchcraft
- Best, Elsdon, 1982. Māori Religion and Mythology, Part 2. Dominion Museum Bulletin No.11. Museum of New Zealand: Wellington.
- "Charlatans may be to blame, says scholar". The Dominion Post. 13 November 2007. Retrieved 19 October 2011.