Volume 1 1892 > Volume 1, No. 2, 1892 > Stone implements from the Chatham Islands
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MR. A. SHAND was lately able to secure a collection of stone M implements from Chatham Island (or Rekohu, its Moriori name), which were found by Mr. Todd at Opuhi, near Owenga, on the East Coast of the island. The tools were buried about a foot under the surface, having probably been deposited there for safety during some crisis in the lifetime of the proprietor, not improbably at the time the island was conquered by the Maoris in 1835.

The collection consists of twenty-seven articles: they have been deposited with the excellent ethnological collection of the Auckland Museum. It is unlikely that so good a general assortment of tools will again be found at the Chatham Islands, and hence their value, though they fail to include among them many of the implements formerly in use by the Moriori.

The tokis, or adzes, are many of them highly polished, and are perfect tools of their kind; indeed, it is somewhat rare to find so high a polish and complete a finish amongst Maori tools of the same description. They are most of them formed of close-grained volcanic rocks. The material was derived, according to the Moriori account, from the bed of the Awa-inanga stream, the Moriori name of which is Wai-taheke-rere.

The illustration shows the type of several of these tools. The original of the figure on the top is formed of an exceedingly close-grained black basaltic stone, highly polished, and beautifully worked, with a sharp cutting edge. There are five of these; they vary in length from 3 inches to 1·5 inches, and were used in light work, and for finishing purposes after roughing-out by the larger toki. The general name for the small toki is panehe. That on the left of the illustration is an average specimen of four larger ones: it measures 7 inches in length, 2·2 inches in width on the cutting edge, or mata, 1·5 inches at the other end, with an average thickness of 1·1 inches. This group is formed of close-grained dark-grey rock, fairly polished, and well finished, the edges being perfectly ground,

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and the faces quite sharp. The figure on the right is a whao, or chisel, used for boring holes in canoes, or in other wooden material, such as the koua or wooden stern-post of the Moriori raft. It is 7·5 inches long, with a mean circumference of 3 inches. It is cylindrical in shape, and has a slight curve in its length; it is fairly well polished, and formed of light-grey close-grained volcanic rock. A second whao is 6 inches long, 2·75 inches in circumference, and in all respects like the other in shape, but is formed of lime-stone. The centre figure of the plate represents a pointed borer, and appears to be made of limestone, though it has somewhat the appearance of fossil bone. The marks made by the toki in chipping it into shape are plainly visible on it still.

The rest of the collection consists of toki in various degrees of finish, and of different shapes, many of them with the oval cross-section of the common Maori toki. Amongst them are two roughly chipped knives (mata) or scrapers, made of a yellow flint or jasperoid rock common on the ranges at the south-east side of the island. These were used for cutting up seals and whales, and for cleaning the skins of the former to make articles of clothing.

The collection does not contain any specimens of the okewa, used formerly as a weapon, or insignia of rank; nor of the pohatu-taharua, a weapon like the mere-paraoa of the Maori.

Finally there is a hoanga, or grinding-stone, oval in shape, about 12 inches long, 8 inches wide, and 4 inches deep, formed of a coarse yellow sandstone, with a hollow oval groove in its upper surface, in which the implements were ground down with the aid of water.

Mr. Shand has been good enough to supply me with the following “grinding song” of the Moriori, which they sung as they performed the laborious and tedious process of reducing to shape the various stone implements in daily use. Much of the spare time of the men was devoted to this work, and when we come to consider the time occupied from first to last in turning out one of these highly polished implements, we cannot be surprised at the value formerly set on them by their owners. The introduction of the European steel tools, of course immediately decreased their value enormously. The following is the song; it is, I believe, the first specimen of Moriori composition ever printed. Mr. Shand has promised to furnish a literal translation, but desires to consult the few old men still alive as to the exact meaning of some of the words before doing so:—

Ko tch oro toki o Hine-tchu-wai-wanga.
First voice. Second voice.
Matchu aha? Matchu ka kimi.
Matchu aha? Matchu pokai.
Matchu aha? Matchu amio.
Matchu aha? Matchu ki hahau.
Matchu aha? Matchu ka kuti.
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Matchu aha ? Matchu moto rere.
Matchu aha ? Matchu takoto.
Matchu aha ? Matchu ka tā.
Matchu aha ? Matchu ka ngawha.
Matchu aha ? Matchu hapurangi.
Matchu aha ? Matchu titorê katoa.
  • Chorus—Oreia, oro toki, oro toitoi wa kai e, e, ra koe. Kauae ro ra koe. Kauae ro ra koe, Hine-tehu-wai-wanga.
  • Oreia, oro toki, oro toitoi wa kai e, e, ra koe. Kauae ro ra koe. Kauae ro ra koe.

The meaning may briefly be given as this: The first voice asks what the cutting of the stone is for, the second voice replies that it is to shape the tool, to sharpen it, and describes the flying of the chips, the splitting of the stone, etc. The chorus appears to address the operator in terms of encouragement, urging him to continue his work, with an appeal also to the goddess of axe-sharpening. The song or incantation is said to have been first used at the making of the axes for building the Rangimata canoe, in which the ancestors of the Moriori left Hawaiki for Rekohu or Chatham Island. If so it is very ancient, for the Rangimata arrived there about twenty-eight generations ago.

Hine-tchu-wai-wanga, is the Hine-tu-a-hoanga of the Maori1, the goddess or deified ancestress, who is always connected in some form with the production of stone axes. Mr. Tregear, in his “Maori Comparative Dictionary,” gives a reference to her and her history in the following quotation:—

“Some ancient personage referred to in the mystical story of ‘Poutini and Whaiapu’—‘Polynesian Mythology,’ p. 82. She drove Ngahue out from his former dwelling-place, and in his wanderings he came to New Zealand, bringing with him his famous ika (fish), the greenstone of Poutini. 2. A great priestess and magician, a grand-daughter of Tawhaki, and the sister of Rata. When Rata was unable to use the tree he had felled, designing it for a canoe (he not having repeated the proper invocation, the wood-fairies set the tree up again when felled), his sister told him to sharpen his axe on her sacred body, which, being done, had the desired effect. Hence her name, “The-maiden-standing-as-a-grindstone;’ or, as the southern version gives it, ‘The-maiden-whose-back-was-a-whetstone’ (Kawe, e whakairi ana ki runga ki te tua-iwi o tou tupuna, ko Hine-tua-oaka)—Wohl., Trans., VII., 46. For the sharpening invocation, ‘Oro oro te toki na Hine-tu-a-hoanga,’ see ‘Shortland's Traditions,’ p. 165. Hine came to New Zealand in Rata's canoe—‘Shortland's Traditions,’ p. 8.”

S. Percy Smith.
1  In Rarotonga, Ruateatonga seems to occupy the same place as presiding deity over all axe work as Hine-tu-a-hoanga in New Zealand and Chatham Island—vide Dr. Wyatt Gill's interesting paper in vol. II. “Reports of the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science,” page 342.