Volume 35 1926 > Volume 35, No. 137 > Boomerang found at Muriwai beach, Auckland, by H. Hamilton, p 45-46
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- 45

ON the 29th of November, 1925, Mr. A. W. B. Powell, of Auckland, was searching among the Maori kitchen middens at Muriwai Beach on the West Coast and came across an undoubted boomerang in a recently exposed midden. There can be no question that the weapon had been buried for some considerable time and had not been recently deposited. Mr. Powell has since donated the boomerang to the Auckland Institute Museum, and I have to thank Mr. Gilbert Archey, the curator, for the opportunity of describing the find.

As far as our knowledge goes, the Maori of history never knew of the boomerang or its use, and, therefore, the finding of such a weapon in a Maori kitchen midden is worthy of introspective investigation.

Before proceeding further, the following is a detailed description of the boomerang found:—The shape is similar to a common type found in South-east Queensland—a local form known as “Berran.” This museum possesses a specimen very similar in shape and size to the Muriwai one, and is illustrated as B in the accompanying plate in comparison with A from Muriwai.

In size the Muriwai boomerang is 18½ inches between verticals and 20½ inches along the curved axis, also being 1½ inches wide and 3-10 of-an-inch thick. One face has been weathered by sand action and exposure, but the other shows a fine scraped finish. The wood, no doubt much altered by exposure and weathering, is light and comparatively soft. At first glance the graining suggests kauri as the component timber but botanical opinion suggests tawhero, a common northern timber tree. Whatever the wood is it is certainly not a hardwood such as Eucalyptus. The Muriwai boomerang weighs 2½ ozs. and that from Queensland 4¼ ozs.

We can now consider the question as to how the weapon came to be located on Muriwai Beach associated with Maori kitchen midden refuse.

- 46

Early traders from Australia visiting New Zealand in search of flax and other cargoes would no doubt bring curios from other lands with them. Sailors generally are great collectors of trophies and souvenirs, and would bring boomerangs as a matter of course.

The aboriginal Maori would be highly interested in a sailor's version of a weapon that when thrown away, came back to the thrower. The curious New Zealander, if he could not obtain an original boomerang from the traders, would fashion one for himself, having seen and handled the real article. Then he would go to the sandhills where room to try out the new weapon could be found and practise until tired of the sport. Most probably the weapon would be discarded after a few ineffectual efforts.

It may also be suggested that the boomerang drifted across from the Australian coast, but nearly all Australian boomerangs being made of dense, non-floating wood, this possibility is to be discounted. As an alternative some white person may have taken the boomerang out to Muriwai to practice with and eventually lost the weapon in the sandhills.

It will be seen that there are many ways of accounting for the presence of such an article in such a position. As an example of how cautious one has to be before definitely basing any conclusion on circumstantial evidence, I think the finding of this boomerang should be placed on record. Even though the wood could be positively identified as being of New Zealand timber and though the weapon was made by a Maori, it does not follow that the Maori, as a race, knew of the boomerang and its peculiarities.

A—The Muriwai boomerang., B—Boomerang from S.E. Queensland.