Volume 38 1929 > Volume 38, No. 149 > Interesting Maori artifacts, by F. V. Knapp, p 27-28
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INTERESTING MAORI ARTIFACTS (Nelson District)

ON the alluvial plain-lands bordering the lower course of the Waimea River there is abundant evidence of former extensive Maori plantations, which, including those farther inland, must have occupied at least from twelve to fourteen hundred acres.

The fact that hundreds of adzes, chisels, and other implements have been picked up on the site of the main pa of this area seems to point to a large population in past days. It was on this camping site that I found portions of several shaped stone treads for spades, which may have been fractured during farming operations of over a half century. I also found one complete tread which is figured in the accompanying plate. (Figs. 1, 2, 3).

A. Evidently the quick perception of some worker noticed the shape and suitability of the pebble as a tread, and that it needed little shaping to make it adaptable. The top was probably made quite flat, a projection being left on the shaft side to protect the foot from being pinched on the downward thrust of the spade. A convenient perpendicular, semi-circular depression, showing considerable wear, fitted on to the shaft, and one running round the stone laterally afforded a firm hold for the tying-cords. The flattened top gave a roomy tread, the surface of which is worn smooth by long usage. The material used appears to be of serpentine rock and the weight of the stone is 2 pounds 4 ounces. 1

B. The other object, which I believe was also found locally, is remarkable in many ways. It is made of black serpentine, and has been carefully shaped with a finish peculiarly pitted in appearance, though the outer surface everywhere is polished as if by long usage. The top flattened - 28 surface shows considerable wear, leading one to regard it as a spade tread. Yet the end which would touch the shaft is convex, which would make it difficult to fix. If such were its use, one would expect that a projecting piece at right angles with the tread would have been left to fit the spade shaft rather than such a comparatively short head.

From the photographs (Figs. 4, 5) it will be seen that the piece, whatever may have been its use, is skilfully and artistically shaped. The flat top-side tapers towards the pointed end, varying in width from 5 cm. to 2.5 cm.

The body in section shows squared sides to a depth of 2 cm., below which it is bevelled to a rounded keel, which gradually tapers in width from the head to the point.

The knob, viewed from the under-side, is shaped like a face, measuring about 6 cm. in length by 4 cm. in breadth. It is slightly rounded on the top and lessens in width to the lower part or chin which is finished in a deeper curve. A simian expression is very noticeable, though no facial features are indicated beyond the middle portion standing in slight relief.

At the smaller end, the top sides have been carried to a converging point, somewhat beak-like in appearance, on the sides of which eyes are suggested by circular depressions round slightly raised centres.

The flattened top and edges are the only places showing definite signs of wear. When the object is held with the smaller end pointing to the right, a slightly bevelled edge is noticeable extending from about the middle for a distance of about 6 cms. to the right.

Round the head-shaped knob has been worked a bevelled depression of a depth sufficient to allow a tying-cord to be affixed. The piece weighs 1 pound 8 ounces.

The face-like projection and general shape somewhat resemble the pendant found at Waitotara and shown in Maori Art, p. 414.

- i
FIG. 1., FIG. 2., FIG. 3.
Photo by—W. C. Davies, Cawthron Institute.
- ii
KO TREAD. FIG. 4., FIG. 5.
Photo by— W. C. Davies, Cawthron Institute.
1   Fig. 32, p. 40a, Museum Bulletin No. 9, shows two shapely specimens of stone foot-rests (teka).—EDITORS.