The Stone Implements of the Maori
When speaking of an ancient canoe, found 25 ft. below the surface near the River Clyde, and which had a stone celt lying in it, Daniel Wilson remarked that the canoe may have been made with such tools. Mr. C. C. Abbott, author of "Primitive Industry," in speaking of the dugout canoes of the Indians of the eastern United States, remarked that they may have been made with similar tools. Both remarks were conjectural to some extent, though probably both conjectures were correct. But here in New Zealand we know that with stone tools the native inhabitants made canoes that were far superior in workmanship, size, and sailing-powers to any made by the American Indians or the early peoples of Britain.
When viewing the elaborate and extensive wood-carvings of the Maori people of former times, it is almost inconceivable that such handsome and intricate work could have been executed with stone tools. This remark is more particularly applicable to the finer work, such as is seen on old carved boxes, whereon every minute line has been traced and incised in a manner most perfect. In doing such work the Maori possessed no tools save those of the Stone Age—stone adzes and chisels, rude cutting-implements of stone and shell; and yet, with such crude implements, he executed the finest work, and carved out of baulks of timber the handsome scrolls and other curved patterns that are the wonder and admiration of all who view them.
Some of the methods employed by the Maori in his labours were remarkably primitive, yet the result obtained is surprising. This is specially noticeable in his wood-carving and weaving. Without any appliance in the form of a loom, or even any knowledge of true weaving, he produced fine garments, ornamented with well-executed devices in geometric patterns of divers colours. Without any metal tools, he produced carved figures that are a marvel of design and neat execution.
In describing the uses to which the stone adzes of the Maori were put, we will note that such may be divided into three classes: (1) Heavy or average-sized implements, used in felling and shaping timber; (2) lighter tools, used for finer work, such as finishing off a dressed surface of wood, &c.; (3) highly finished adzes, mounted on handles ornamented with carving, and sometimes with bunches of white dog's hair. This latter type may almost be termed a ceremonial implement.
In the first-mentioned class may be included such adzes as are termed toki ngao pae, toki ao rnaramara, and toki ngao tu among the page 134Tuhoe Tribe. The first named is a large, heavy adze, used for heavy work, such as "roughing out" a canoe, or house timbers. The last mentioned was an adze of medium size and weight, used for shaping out a canoe, posts, beams, &c. The ao maramara adze was used in hollowing out a canoe.
The second class includes the small, light finishing-tools, known as toki ngao matariki and toki whakarau to the Tuhoe Tribe. All the above forms were often well finished, having been ground over the whole surface from rnata (cutting-edge) to reke (poll), but some are seen in which the flaking marks and cavities have not been entirely ground out, save on the blade or bevelled part. Of course, all forms are sometimes found in an unfinished state—from those just roughly chipped from the block to those chipped and pecked into form ready for grinding, and others in various stages of grinding. It seems, however, that the usual habit was to grind the whole surface of adzes except the butt end and poll, and, in many cases, to polish it also. These processes produced a very smooth surface and a sightly polish.
Neither of the above two classes of adzes were looked upon as weapons, although they were occasionally used as such, as also was the ko, or digging-stick.
The third class of adze, or semi-ceremonial form, was sometimes carried and used as a weapon for the purpose of despatching a fallen enemy, but it never, apparently, occupied the favoured position as a short weapon that the mere and patu did. This highly ornamented form of adze was used more as an insignia of rank or baton than as a weapon or tool. Such forms were much in vogue among the chiefs and men of good family; and when addressing an assembly of people such a person always had in his hand either such an adze or a patu, mere, or taiaha, or some other weapon. Such items were effectively brandished in the vigorous gesticulations so inseparable from Maori oratory in the days of yore.
These semi-ceremonial implements are known as toki pou tangata, toki hohou pu (so named from the method of securing it to the handle), and toki whawhau pu. They were usually made of green-stone.
It is said that, when so desired, these fine well-finished adzes of this latter class were sometimes used as tools in finishing off work in the hewing of timber. This would only apply to some short forms, apparently. The true pou tangata type of adze was never used as a tool.
The labour of adzing timber is one that was often performed by native chiefs, many of whom were remarkably adept in the use of the page 135stone adze, so much so that such work was often quite artistic. This remark refers to the peculiar patterns adzed on the surface of worked timbers in the final dressing thereof. Nor did such a man think it at all beneath his dignity to engage in such work. Remarks E. J. Wake-field, in his "Adventure in New Zealand": "I accompanied Colonel Wakefield and Barrett in an excursion to the different settlements round the harbour. At one, about half-way along the west shore, called Nga Hauranga (Nga-uranga), we found Warepori (Whare-pouri) at work with an adze on a large canoe. The bottom of this vessel consisted of a single tree, hollowed out, and was 60 ft. long…. Warepori (Whare-pouri) put aside his adze, and introduced the matter shortly, saying that this white man had come to buy all their land, &c."
It will readily be seen that the main use of these stone adzes and chisels was in the working of timber, and that such working must presumably have been a tedious process. To attempt to cut wood with such tools would dishearten any of us who live in this age of steel. Yet the Maori did most excellent work with them.
It is of course, a well-known fact that fire was much used by the Maori in his heavier work, as in tree-felling, log-cutting, and the hollowing-out of canoes and smaller wooden vessels.
Greenstone (nephrite) adzes were used for final dressing of the surface of a canoe, but for the rough hewing and the chipping of charred surfaces adzes of common stone were used.
It is assuredly a fact that a stone celt, such as the ordinary New Zealand forms, is much better adapted for use as an adze than as an axe. The necessary thickness of the blade at and near the cutting-edge renders it but a very poor tool for the purpose of cutting across the grain of timber, as we chop a log. It is much more serviceable as an adze—that is, to cut timber with the grain. This fact may have retarded the invention or evolution of the true axe among the Maori people, though it has not perhaps done so in some lands—as America and Australia, for example. A Maori prefers to stand, when working with an adze, at right angles to the timber being worked, so that the cutting-edge of his tool is in line or parallel with the grain of the wood. This may be seen by noting any timber surface adzed by a native. Thus he is really splitting off his chips, not chopping them off across the grain.
In his account of the military occupation of Porirua in the "forties" of last century, Lieutenant McKillop remarks on the Maori aptitude for adzing timber: "I have seen them using the adze with great precision, steadying the work with the naked foot, which a false stroke would have cut to pieces."page 136
When working timber across the grain, in such rough work as felling a tree or crosscutting a log, fire was much employed by the Maori to expedite the work, as also in hollowing out canoes, &c. Sir W. Buller has remarked that fire was also employed in forming the deeper and larger hollows in big wood-carvings. Mr. Stowell notes that diminutive adzes were used in carving house-pillars and large items.
It is doubtful if much actual cutting was done with the huge chisel-hafted tools in felling a tree. Most native authorities state that fire was the principal agent by which tree-felling was accomplished. A fire was kept burning for some time in the umu, or scarf, until the surface of the inner part was charred. This charred portion was then "punched" off with the axially hafted stone tool, or with an adze, until the uncharred wood was exposed, when fire would again be made in the cavity, and the punching process repeated. The big heavy wedge, or axe-shaped toki, seems to have been used for this work. If, however, some sharper-edged stone tool was employed a certain amount of cutting across the grain might have been accomplished, but it cannot have been a very effective operation.
There is an old saying of the Maori people which reads, "He maire tu wao, ma te toki e tua" implying that it needs a toki to fell a forest-growing maire tree, so hard and durable is that timber. This saying is certainly in favour of stone tools having been used for the purpose of felling trees; in fact, most of the evidence is in favour of their having been so used, but to what extent they were used in such labour is hardly clear. Native authorities differ in their statements. Anyhow, we are confronted with statements made by many authorities that two parallel channels or big grooves were formed horizontally near the base of the tree, and that the block of wood left between them was then split out. Before any such work was commenced, however, certain invocations were repeated in order to placate the gods, and more especially Tane, the tutelary deity of forests. Also charms were recited over the stone tools, that they might perform good work and be generally effective. In fact, the felling of a tree for canoe or house making was preceded by a solemn rite. Some account of this rite may be found in vol. xl of the "Transactions of the New Zealand Institute," page 247.
When, in preparing the timbers for a new house, the operator hewed off the first chip in dressing one of the central posts, or the ridge-pole, a certain invocation was recited. In canoe-making this ceremony was performed over the first chip hewn off the stern of the vessel. There were many different charms or invocations repeated at such times. Having recited his karakia, the operator left his adze, page 137and carried the chip to the village latrine, and deposited it beneath the beam thereof. When the time came to perform the kawa rite over the finished house, then that chip and the place where it was deposited would be mentioned in the ritual pertaining to the ceremony, whereby all persons would know that the house was a tapu one. If this circum-stance was lacking, then the house was not tapu, but only a common one.
Pihopa Taumutu, of the Tuhoe Tribe, contributes a brief note as follows: "Kotahi (te) toki roa i rua nga puare ki te kauwae hei hohou-tanga mo te kaha e mau ai. Ka tuamutia te totara, a runga, a raw, ka riro ma taua toki e tango a waenganui." We take this to mean that there were two grooves in the lower part of the foot of the handle, to contain the lashings. Two kerfs or grooves were made in the trunk of a tree, and this tool was used to hew or split out the block of timber between these two grooves. Apparently this implement was an adze, though the description of it is annoyingly incomplete. Pihopa forwards a sketch of a weird-looking tree, showing the method of tree-felling by making two horizontal cuts therein, a little distance apart, prior to chipping out the block between the two cuts.
In Mr. Locke's paper on "Historical Traditions of Taupo," &c., published in vol. xv of the "Transactions of the New Zealand Institute," is an account of the making of the "Totara-karia" canoe, in which occurs the following: "They did not fell the tree, as they had no axes, so they dug it down." This remark evidently put the narrator in a corner, and he had to get out of it by explaining that the log was not fashioned into a canoe, but that the whole tree, roots and branches included, was launched and used as a canoe whereon to reach the far distant isles of Polynesia. The Maori is nothing if not ingenious.
It was deemed unlucky to chip or cut a living standing tree in former times and then leave it. To fell it in a proper manner, with due regard to the proper forms, was all right, but to hack a tree about heedlessly, without a proper object in view, was a reprehensible act, and unlucky. Such an act was termed tukou or korora. Even to adze a standing tree was extremely bad form. It should be felled in the orthodox manner, and with the proper ceremonies. Elders would chide any young person seen interfering in the above manner with a tree. It was deemed a pokanoa, a feckless interference with a living tree. Hence one might hear, at such a time, such remarks as "Kai te tukoutia ano nga rakau e mea, he aitua" or "Ka mate tangata ra, he korora i nga rakau" or "Haere noa koe ki ro ngahere tukou ai i te rakau, korora ai" And if a person idly chips out a human form on page 138such a tree, or in the earth, the result will be that he or one of his relatives will shortly die. For it is equally unlucky to heedlessly interfere with the Earth Mother; and on observing such an act as that mentioned above, an elder would say, "Kai. te korora te tangata i te whenua;" and another might remark, "He whakawhenua ra," which implies misfortune. This item was given by Te Whatahoro, of Wai-rarapa.
In working timber with the grain, as in splitting out heavy slabs for house-building purposes, &c., much assistance was derived from wedges. These wedges were of hard wood, and were struck with a heavy wooden maul. Such rough slabs were then reduced to the desired size and form by means of stone adzes. Adzes with a broad cutting-edge were used for adzing battens for a roof, so that the edge of the tool might embrace the whole width of the piece of timber, and thus leave a better and more uniform surface than if a narrow tool were used. Some very broad adzes, termed raupapanui, with cutting-edge nearly 1 ft. in breadth, were used for adzing wide timbers—that is, for the final dressing, though much narrower ones were used in previous stages of the work. The first roughing-out process in adzing a timber was done with an adze styled a toki tahitahi. The above remarks were contributed by Te Whatahoro.
It will readily be understood that these stone adzes were not adapted for chopping purposes—that is, chopping across the grain—as a true axe would be, the cutting-edge of which is in line with the handle. When engaged in such work as getting fuel the natives did not use their stone tools, or but to a slight extent, but endeavoured to find dry branches that could be broken into short lengths by being struck on the ground or across a log or root. Hence the old-time expression whatiwhati wahie (firewood-breaking).
Mr. H. Stowell states that the expression tata wahie was applied, as was the phrase whatiwhati wahie, to breaking dry branches, &c., for firewood, and that the Maori never split wood for fuel. A heavy toki might sometimes be used to break a piece of dry wood for fuel, but not to chop or split it. Mr. Stowell is a member of the native race, and possesses a vast fund of information anent the ancient history, customs, and cults of his people.
Mr. Percy Smith says, "Tata wahie, to me, is the act of breaking up dry firewood by knocking one end of a stick on the ground, as you have seen old native women do lots of times. I do not think that they used a toki for such purposes."
The expression tata, says Te Whatahoro, was applied to rough hewing with an adze, while mirimiri implied smooth adzing, as in page 139finishing off a worked surface. It was the final process in cases where a plain smooth surface was desired, and no marks were left on the finished face. The whakangao mode of finishing off a face of dressed timber differed from the above; inasmuch as marks were designedly left at regular intervals, as explained above, each mark being left where the tool came in contact with the timber.
A most interesting paper has been written by Mr. G. V. Smith on the using of stone axes, and the work that can be done with such primitive tools. He made numerous experiments with rough, chipped, stone axes (true axes, not helved as adzes), such as are found in the ancient middens of Denmark. These rough, flaked, unground flint axes were secured to such wooden handles as were used by the makers of ground stone axes in Switzerland, Denmark, &c. These rudely helved palaeolithic implements were then used on pieces of green-pine (Pinus silvestris) of different sizes. A stick of pine wood, 0.1225 m. in diameter, was cut in ten minutes. Another, 0.0555 m. in diameter, was cut in two in three-quarters of a minute.The severed piece was sharpened like a pile. Both pieces were fixed in a perpen-dicular position for cutting. "The scarfs produced by the cutting were perfectly regular and exact, and the surface left by the removal of the chips would have also been quite smooth if the serrations of the edge had not left some inequalities." Thus it will be seen that a pine stick about 4½ in. in diameter was cut in ten minutes (save about 0.02 m. broken off by force).
In cutting a log with hard knots in it a somewhat thicker-bladed stone axe was used, the bevelled parts showing an angle of inclination of 45°. "With the same instruments used as chisels, I shaped two logs to mortise and tenon."
In vol. viii of the "Polynesian Society's Journal," at pages 135-97, is a note by Mr. Kensington anent the discovery of the marks of cutting on a kauri tree with a stone implement: "This tree was 5 ft. in diameter; and at 50 ft. from the base, right in the heart of the tree, and 18 in. from the outside, they found clearly defined marks of the tree having been chopped with a stone axe…. The party could discern the marks of the chopping with a dull blunt instrument as clearly as possible…. The Maori must have climbed the tree and cut into it with a stone axe. The chopping with a blunt stone implement was undoubted, as pieces were cut out by some of the party as evidence. The Maori must have climbed the tree … and marked it for the purpose of making a canoe, evidently climbing and marking to be sure that he had his length, because ten kumi (? ten maro, or one kumi—i.e., ten fathoms) was the ordinary length of a canoe." Some correspondence ensued as to whether or not this chopping page 140had been done near the base of the tree, and had attained its elevation through the growth of the tree, but it was pointed out that marks or attachments on a tree are not carried upwards as the tree grows, but remain at the same distance from the ground.
Te Whatahoro states that the name koma was applied to an implement, sometimes curved, made like a wide-bladed adze, much in the form of our broad axes (it was probably made of the stone termed koma). It was hafted as an adze for use in the cultivation of the kumara, or sweet potato, and not for dressing timbers. It was made as a hoe wherewith to hoe the earth round the little mounds in which the kumara was planted, after which the clods of earth were broken up by striking them with a wooden implement, and the loose earth heaped up round the plants. This stone hoe or grubber, also termed a toki kaheru, had a much wider blade than a stone adze for timber-working, and such an item was possessed by persons of importance only. It was sometimes hafted as is a Dutch hoe, and used as such—that is, as a pere.
A few of our thick, heavy, New Zealand stone forms certainly look as though they had been intended for hand-use—that is, to be grasped In the hand, having no wooden handle. Te Whatahoro asserts that such tools were pounders, used for pounding roots, &c., which seems highly probable.
We are informed by Te Whatahoro that no stone adzes were ever used without a handle in working timber in any way. Anything so used in the hand would be a potuki, or pounder. He remarks that in some cases collectors may mistake a miroi for a potuki. The former is a stone implement, carefully fashioned, that was formerly used for the purpose of curling dressed flax-fibre to be used as thrums in cloak-making. The miroi was, in form, very much like the old-fashioned round scythe-stones—thick in the middle, and decreasing in size towards the ends, but not coming to a point. We lack the forms found in Britain and America, wherein are certain depressions that seem to have been formed for the thumb or fingers to fit into, though any form so used could not be termed an adze or axe. A few New Zealand specimens have been worked on the upper end into a rounded shape that makes an excellent "hand-hold," but this must have been intended for the reception and retention of the lashing. Moreover, in two such specimens before us the tool is adze-shaped, the blade being formed by one bevel only, and hence seem to have been intended for use as helved adzes. Used in the hand without a haft, they could not have been employed for such work as dressing timber, though they might have been so held and used as crushers, pounders, or something of that nature. As all writers on this subject page 141have remarked, it is sometimes difficult to ascertain the use of an implement, or to distinguish between a weapon and tool.
Mr. Brigham, at page 77 of his paper on the "Stone Implements of the Hawaiians," speaks of the fine work done with stone adzes. It is also a fact that the Maori of New Zealand hewed and dressed timber in an excellent manner with stone adzes.
Sir Joseph Banks, in his Journal in connection with Captain Cook's first voyage, remarks on the stone tools of the Maori and the work done with them: "It will be necessary to say something of their tools. As they have no metals these are made of stone of different kinds, their hatchets especially of any hard stone they can get, but chiefly of a kind of green talc, which is very hard and, at the same time, tough. With axes of this stone they cut so clean that it would often puzzle a man to say whether the wood they have shaped was or was not cut with an iron hatchet."
A few of these stone tools of the Maori, obviously intended to be helved as adzes, could only have been used to cut a narrow groove or channel in the worked material, such groove having a flat bottom and sloping sides. Others, again, of chisel-form would, if used as adzes, cut out a rectangular channel; others, a rounded or semi-circular one.
There is much guessing among American writers as to the uses of roughly chipped celts, but this is not a matter that affects writers on Maori implements to any great extent. The Maori did not learn to make and grind stone implements in New Zealand. He brought the art with him when he first came to these isles. The rough chipped forms here seen are probably no older than ground specimens, but are merely unfinished forms.
In regard to the use of these stone celts of the Maori as wedges in splitting timber, this matter can, so far, be merely marked as not proven. We cannot grasp the idea of such tools being used as wedges, inasmuch as they would necessarily have to be struck such violent blows, which would soon break them. Nor is there any native evidence to support such a theory. Mr. C. C. Abbott speaks of grooved stone axes of New Jersey having been battered on the head, "as though this type of axe was largely used in splitting wood." But the grooving shows that those tools were hafted as axes, though the poll may have been sometimes used as a hammer, as we so use the poll of a steel axe, often to its disfigurement.
The following is an extract from a letter written by Te Kahukoti Karamu, a Ngati-Paoa chief, to Governor Grey, and published in "Maori Mementos" in 1855: "Kia rongo mai koe, ko nga kaipuke o mua i rere mai ki Niu Tireni, i whai nga rangatira ki oku matua, page 142whakarere iho ko nga kahu whero, he mea kihukihu etahi, he toki, he pititi, he riwai, I kitea i konei te toki pakeha, he pounamu hoki ta matou nei toki hei whakapai, he kohatu hei wahi i te rakau mo te waka, ko te pounamu hei waru. Ka riro mai nga toki i oku tupuna, i oku matua, ka rangona e Tokerau, ka rangona e Wai-kato, ka rangona e Tauranga, e Rotorua, e Taupo. Ka haere mai nga rangatira o aua wahi ki te (tiki) toki mo ratou, ta te mea, ko Te Haupa anake i whiwhi ki era taonga. Ka haere mai a Te Rau-angaanga ki toku whaea, he tuahine nona, ka riro atu ki a ia he toki, he kahu whero, ko nga riwai, me nga pititi." The translation is as follows: "Now hear me. The vessel of former times that came hither to New Zealand, their commanders sought my elders, and left them red garments, some of which were fringed, axes, peaches (peach-stones), and potatoes. Then was first seen the white man's axe. For our toki used for hewing was of nephrite. Stones were used to split a tree in canoe-making, and greenstone (adzes) for hewing. When my ancestors and elders obtained axes the fact was heard by the Tokerau, heard by Wai-kato, heard by Tauranga, by Rotorua, by Taupo. The chiefs of those places came hither to procure axes for themselves, inasmuch as Te Haupa alone had acquired such goods. Te Rau-angaanga came to my mother (?), who was a sister of his, and obtained an axe, a red garment, potatoes, and peaches." Unfortunately, it is not made clear in the above as to how stones or stone tools were used for splitting, or whether they were fashioned implements or not. It is possible that the writer meant that common stone adzes were used for rough hewing with the grain, and nephrite adzes for finishing off.
Mr. A. Knocks, of Otaki, states that in his youth he saw stone toki used as wedges in splitting logs by Maoris of that district, being struck with crude wooden mauls, a sort of heavy club with a big knob at one end. He also saw several of the stone wedges (toki) broken while being so used. Now, at that period the natives had acquired steel axes, and it is quite probable that they might use some of the discarded stone tools for the purpose of log-splitting; but the fact that several were broken shows that they were not fit tools to stand the heavy blows of the maul, which was merely a club without any iron containing-rings thereon.
A correspondent informs us that having heard of a stone adze that had been found in his district he went to the finder in order to obtain it, if possible. On his arrival, however, he found that it had been broken by some lads who had tried to utilize it as a wedge in splitting timber, striking it with a wooden maul, with the above result.page 143
From the Maori point of view, none of these stone adzes would do good work unless certain charms were repeated over them. This seems to have had the effect of rendering the use of them efficacious.
Greenstone was, in most places, too valuable to be formed into large adzes, and was used whereof to form small adzes, chisels, and also weapons and ornaments. Greenstone chisels are known as small as 1 in. in length and ¼ in. in width. Such tools were used in making wood-carvings, and the small greenstone adzes were much desired for fine dressing of timber-surfaces. Greenstone being of a harder nature and tougher than common stone, it follows that it will carry a keener cutting-edge and a thinner blade.
It is worth while to note that any greenstone adzes with a double-bevelled cutting-edge would certainly not be used as wedges, the material being too valuable. But the thick wedge or axe-shaped form, to be hereinafter described, does not occur in nephrite.
Of the large heavy toki helved and used as chisels, Mr. T. H. Smith has remarked: "The toki titaha used for felling large trees was fixed by lashing to the end of a stout pole or shaft, with which it was thrust or driven against the tree to be felled. By successive blows two deeply incised rings, 1 ft. or more apart, were carried round the trunk, the scarf between these being wedged out with smaller axes or adzes." This use of the term titaha is inexplicable to us, and it is difficult to conceive how any Maori could apply the term titaha to a tool mounted axially on its shaft. This requires some further query and corroboration before it is accepted. The expression means not axial, but sideways, or oblique, leaning to one side, &c.
Another informant states that the stone tool that was lashed on in an axial manner (the poki of Ngai-Tahu) was used not so much for the purpose of cutting, for which it was but ill adapted, but for punching or bruising a horizontal channel or hole in a tree that was to be felled. This hole was carried in for a little distance, until there was sufficient space therein to keep a small fire burning. The punching process left the surfaces of the timber in a much bruised condition, the fibres of the wood being lacerated and loosened to a considerable extent. Such loosened parts were readily attacked and consumed by fire, which also, after some time, charred the unbruised wood further in. The punching process was then repeated until the charred wood was chipped off and another layer of wood bruised and its outer fibres loosened, when fire was again employed, and so on until the scarf was carried in far enough.
On inquiring of Mr. Tame Parata (native member of Parliament for the South Island), Mr. T. E. Green, and another elderly man, page 144all of whom are of the Ngai-Tahu Tribe, as to the former use of a large chisel-hafted toki in the South, we found that they knew nothing of it, nor did they know the term poki as applied to a stone tool.
* Mr. Barstow, in his paper on the Maori canoe, remarks that dry rewarewa wood (Knightia excelsa) was used as fuel for fires kindled in order to hollow out a log for a canoe.
Mr. H. D. Skinner informs us that an Upper Whanga-nui native stated that the heavy poki, or chisel-hafted stone tool, when used to punch a groove round a tree-trunk, was supported by a horizontal rail or beam, across the upper surface of which the shaft of the tool slid as the blade was dashed against the tree, propelled by the arms of the operators.
In connection with the use of the double-bevelled chisel-hafted toki, we here give some description of a singular apparatus formerly employed in the labour of tree-felling among the Tuhoe Tribe. The information was given by an old native of that tribe to a European who has resided among them for many years, is conversant with their history, and has a remarkably fine knowledge of the Maori tongue. The description of the apparatus will be clear if the sketch on page 146 is referred to.
There were two forms of toki used in tree-felling—(1) the toki ngao-tu, weighing about 5 lb. or 6 lb., and having a double-bevelled cutting-edge; (2) the toki ngao pae, a somewhat heavier tool, with a chisel-edge. Both of these tools were lashed to wooden shafts.
Now, following the sketch, A represents the trunk of the tree. B is a small spar or whip, a sapling of kai (young tree of Podocarpus spicatus) or tanekaha (Phyllocladus trichomanoides) sufficiently pliant for the purpose. Saplings of these two trees are extremely tough, and are also pliant. C is the purchase to which B is attached, and acts as a fulcrum. This would be usually a post sunk in the ground and rendered stable, but sometimes a small tree was found growing in a suitable position to be so used. D D are the ropes attached to either end of B, and which, when the apparatus was being operated, were slipped over the knob, or into a slot, at E, on the shaft of the tool. Thus it will be seen that the apparatus may be described as a bow, of which D D was the string and B the bow-shaft, the arrow being represented by the shaft H, with its point (the attached stone tool) I. To proceed with the description, H shows the straight shaft, on the end of which the toki ngao tu (I) was secured by lashing. This stone tool was fitted into the end of the shaft as shown in the lower sketch. H is the stock or shaft. I is the attached tool. K shows the lashings, of which there are several. J marks the slot hollowed out to receive the poll or butt of the stone axe; this was sometimes used, but not always; in other cases the poll was page 146simply butted against a straight shoulder. E denotes a boss over which the rope (bow-string) was secured. There were three forms of this feature: one was a natural protuberance, such as a branch base would furnish; another, a notch in the shaft; yet another, and the most common form, being a boss or raised ring. G represents a stage or platform of two horizontal poles or beams, on which the axe-shaft worked, and which gave direction to the stroke. Our informant adds, "I am not quite clear, but I think the inner plank of the platform could be raised or lowered, so as to direct the stroke of the tool toward the upper or lower part of the scarf." The whip or bow, B, was bent by pulling on the cords D D, or bow-string, which were secured to the shaft at the slot or boss. F shows the pulling-rope secured to the axe-shaft, which was manned by several lusty young men, who pulled together and released the rope to the page 147time given by a working-song, or "shanty," which, unfortunately, we have not been able to collect. The length of the ropes D D was determined by the length and degree of suppleness of the bow B, in such a manner that the length of stroke with the axe was confined to one of from 9 in. to 12 in., a longer stroke causing the perdition of tools. The number of lashings on the stone axe, whereby to secure it firmly to the shaft, was determined by the shape of the axe towards the poll.
With the above-described apparatus two horizontal cuts were made in the trunk of the tree. Then the wood between these two cuts was chipped or chiselled out with the toki ngao pae, which was also lashed to a stout shaft in an axial manner, but was used without a whip. This implement was a true adze, with chisel-shaped blade. It was used by two or three men, who, holding the shaft and swaying their bodies in unison were able to deliver a sufficiently effective blow. It is of interest to note that both the upper and lower cuts are said to have been carried in almost horizontally.
This method of felling trees was formerly in use among the Tuhoe or Ure-wera Tribe, and also Te Arawa, but the practice of it was confined to a close guild of one or two families in either tribe, who, of course, kept their knowledge and use of the singular apparatus as much as possible to themselves, as a sort of trade secret. It was, of course, hedged round with a tapu ceremonial, as in the case of some other native industries and arts, and hence it is difficult to get detailed information about it.
We are indebted to Mr. J. B. Lee, of Ruatoki, for a series of good sketches of the above-described apparatus, showing details of construction and method of using.
* We have lately ascertained that the first inhabitants of New Zealand, the Maruiwi people, were probably acquainted with and used the bow and arrow here, but that it fell into disuse because the later immigrants from eastern Polynesia declined to adopt it. The Maruiwi people are also said to have introduced the weapons known as hoeroa, tarerarera, huata, and patu kurutai. Maruiwi made their bows of manuka wood, the cords being made of dog's skin.
The knowledge of this apparatus has been retained by very few of the old natives, and he who gave the above account of it is a man of a conservative nature; hence he is not a person to be applied to by any one in pursuit of knowledge of old-time lore. The account was given by him to his daughter's husband, who has enjoyed the old man's confidence for many years. His remarks anent the secretive guild of manipulators of the instrument will be readily understood by any person acquainted with the Maori people and their ways. The Maori was ever jealous of any special knowledge acquired by him. Many illustrations of this fact might be given. In like manner it was sometimes a recognized thing that a certain art should be retained and exercised by a particular family. Thus, among the Tuhoe Tribe, the art of wood-carving was practically confined to the direct descendants of three brothers, known as the Whanau-pani, who flourished in the land of Awa some two and a half centuries ago.
The only primitive item we have noted in which additional force was imparted to a stone implement by means of utilizing the resiliency of timber is a statement made by Evans, in his "Ancient Stone Implements" as follows: "Among the ancient Pennacooks of the Merrimac Valley the heavy stone pestle was suspended from the elastic bough of a tree, which relieved the operator in her work."
The Rev. T. G. Hammond, who possesses much knowledge of the customs, &c., of the natives of the west coast, considers that the double-bevelled stone toki were the ones that were lashed axially on a shaft and used as punching-tools in tree-felling in that district. These tools, he remarks, were made in two sizes, apparently, the lighter one being used by one man to punch off the charred wood in the scarf of a tree as it was formed by the action of fire. The larger ones were heavy tools, lashed on to long stout poles, and handled by several men. With this tool the operators punched two rings round the trunk of a tree, the block of wood between the two ring-channels being chipped with stone adzes, used sideways.
In the Auckland Weekly News of the 12th August, 1909, appeared an interesting paper on canoe-making, written by W.B., of Te Kuiti. It contains a description of tree-felling as practised formerly by the page 149Maori, with two implements—the orthodox stone adze and the straight-hafted punching toki: "First, the lean of the tree was debated. That settled, two posts were fixed in the ground on the first scarf, the side it would fall to, the width of the tree apart, and of height to allow for a scaffold upon which the labourers may stand. From post to post a straight rail was tied, to rest the axe-helve upon; which axe was not helved like the white man's, at right angles, but firmly bedded and lashed in a recess at the end of the helve-pole with strong sinnet. Then four slaves grasped the pole, and, using the rail for a rest, butted the axe at the tree, across the grain, with might. A hand's breadth higher another groove was graven, and the intermediate groove pecked out with a narrow adze. When the master adjudged the depth to be just the rail was raised half a man, and a similar groove graven, and the block between scooped out with the same tool on edge; and if the scarf was deep enough to house a fire such was employed to char the wood. Then the other scarf got attention."
The above contains the only account of the chisel-hafted toki, and the mode of using it, that we have found recorded. It makes the manipulation of the tool quite clear, the horizontal rail used as a rest on which to slide the shaft back and forth, the method of forming the two grooves, and the two ways of using the straight-shafted toki—viz., (1) as an axe, with the cutting-edge horizontal, in order to cut across the grain; and (2) as a chisel, with the cutting-edge vertical, in order to split out piecemeal the block of wood between the two grooves. The explanation of the mode of forming the two preliminary grooves is most acceptable, and corroborates the native accounts of an adze being used sideways in order to chip out the timber between the two "punched" lines, although the big straight-hafted tool was employed to split out the heavy block between the upper and lower cut.
Hurae Puketapu, of Waikare Moana, states that in former times a stone toki, mounted axially on a long shaft, was used for cutting logs under water, and that it was termed a hiwa. The operators would stand in a canoe to work this tool in cutting a submerged log in lake or river, and the water would carry away the chips. When the log was severed, two canoes would be moored over it in order to raise it to the surface, when a person would dive down and tie ropes to it. Such a mode of placing canoes is termed a taurua. ("Mo te hiwa. Ko tenei he mea totika tonu te kakau, tae atu ki te toki. Ko tenei toki mo te rakau i roto i te wai, ahakoa hohonu ka taea te tope. Ko te ingoa o tenei toki, he hiwa, ko tana mahi he mea tuki iho i runga i te waka, ma te wai e tahi nga maramara. Mehemea ka motu, page 150ka whakapaea nga waka e rua hai hapai i te rakau ki runga; ka kiia tena he taurua. He mea ruku te kawenga i te taura ki te rakau.") This account shows clearly how the hiwa was used at such work, being thrust down as we use a crowbar. The two canoes placed parallel to each other formed a good substitute for a pontoon in raising the log to the surface.
In an article by "Crayon" in the "New Zealand Journal," 1842, occurs the following remark: "At other times the men are employed … in making seines for fishing, in making canoes, in raising totara trees of immense size from the depth of rivers for that purpose, where they have been imbedded from time immemorial." Those submerged logs of totara were much sought after in some districts, sometimes on account of the scarcity of timber, and also because such timber was preferred for certain work, or certain portions of a house."
In his "Hawaiian Antiquities," David Malo remarks that in tree-felling, "Two scarfs were made about 3 ft. apart, one above and one below, and when they had been deepened the chips were split off in a direction lengthwise of the tree…. When the tree began to crack to its fall they lowered their voices, and allowed no one to make a disturbance." There was, in Hawaii as in New Zealand, a considerable amount of ritual connected with tree-felling. At the place where the top of the tree was cut off the trunk was wreathed with ieie, and the adept donned a ceremonial maro during the ceremony, both of which items are met with in Maori usage.
Mr. Rutland, in speaking of rough unpolished stone tools (apparently adzes) found in the Pelorus district, says, "I have collected several, weighing from 2½ lb. to 4 lb., that have been in use; they are probably mattocks, required to work the heavy land of the district." We have never heard of any stone mattock having been used by Maoris in cultivation-work or in breaking up ground for any purpose, though they had light stone hoes, used as cultivators in worked soil (see Toki hengahenga). The early voyagers, as also the natives themselves, tell us only of wooden tools so used for breaking up, as the tirna, the ko, and the wauwau.
It is probable that highly prized adzes were tapu, and were not used for any common work, in former times. This seems to be the underlying idea in a remark given in White's "Ancient History of the Maori," vol. iii, page 98 of Maori part, page 166 of English part.
Colenso has recorded a Maori saying, "He iti toki, e rite ana ki te tangata" (Though the adze be small, yet does it equal a man—that is, in regard to the work it performs).