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The Stone Implements of the Maori

B.—Methods Employed in Grinding Surfaces

B.—Methods Employed in Grinding Surfaces

In Shortland's "Southern Districts of New Zealand," page 117, we read, "Here I saw for the first time on a large scale the native method of grinding the pounamu, or greenstone, from the rough block into the desired shape. The house belonging to the chief, Koroko, was like a stone-cutter's shop. He and another old man were constantly to be seen there seated by a large slab of sandstone, on which they by turns rubbed backwards and forwards a misshapen block of pounamu, while it was kept moist by water which dropped on it from a wooden vessel. While one rubbed, the other smoked. They made, however, so little progress on it during my stay that it seemed probable it would be left for some one of the next generation to finish the work. It is not, therefore, to be wondered that what has cost so much labour should be regarded as the greatest treasure of the country."

The old men who engaged in the work of fashioning and smoothing stone implements looked upon it as a sort of endless employment, and the item being so formed was ever by their side. Thus they would work, talk, rest, or sleep, as they felt inclined. Kutu and Te Whenuanui the first, of Rua-tahuna, were noted workers of greenstone, and spent much of their time in making tiki (or heitiki, the well-known page 72neck-pendant). When they happened to wake up in the dead of night, they would take up the article being worked, rub and grind away at it for a while, and then sleep again, and so on. Old stone-workers passed both day and night in this manner. In working stone, and to a great extent in making wooden implements, &c., much apparently unnecessary work was done in order to give the object a fine finish. Some old men passed much time in chipping or pecking and bruising (toto) into form the rounded stones used in the game of koruru.

Small pieces of sandstone were used for wearing down and smoothing inner surfaces that could not be rubbed on a stone, though the instincts of the native, as we note elsewhere, are against rubbing a grinding-stone on an implement. In such a manner holes in ornaments were rendered shapely and smooth. Further information on this subject will be found under the head of "Grinding-stones."