Volume 47 1938 > Volume 47, No. 187 > Notes and queries, p 143-144
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[513] Unique Maori Grindstone.

The gravelly beds of rivers in the Nelson provincial district abound with rock-material from diversified geological formations, from which pebbles of suitable material and shape were frequently obtained for use by the local Maoris. On one of these river-beds, a boat-shaped boulder of hard grey stone, containing an inner core of fine-grained sandstone, exposed on the top surface and at the back, evidently caught the eye of some Maori traveller whose ingenious mind saw its potentiality as a grindstone for finishing off adze-heads.

The sandstone had been worn down below the hardened rim, forming an elongated receptacle. The Maori bored a small hole, about 4 mm. in diameter, through the sandstone at the back to permit of drainage, and this, when plugged, would hold the required amount of water when in use. Presumably he worked his adze or chisel from side to side, thus finishing off the bevel and the cutting-edge.

This unique grindstone was found by Mr. George Farley, at the mouth of Stanley brook, near its junction with the Motueka river, from whose bed the stone was probably obtained.—Mr. F. V. KNAPP, Nelson.

[514] Skull-boxes in the South Island.

In an account of a skull-box from Banks peninsula 1 the present writer figured what he concluded was a board from a similar box in the Otago Museum (fig. 7). Mr. David Teviotdale has pointed out to me what is probably a reference to this piece, which, it may be recalled, came to the Otago Museum with the John White collection. The writer of the note was Murray Aston, a well-known dealer-collector who flourished in Dunedin in the nineties, and through whose hands passed most of the Maori material found on Otago beaches by commercial diggers at that time. John White is known to have purchased material from Murray Aston. The note appeared in the Otago Daily Times, August 23rd, 1893, and is as follows: “A gentleman rejoiced my heart with the end of a Maori box or coffin, beautifully carved and inlaid with pawa (paua) shell, which he informed me he had discovered 20 years ago in a cave, and which, when he found it, contained three skulls.”

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1   J.P.S., vol. 45 (1936), p. 63.