Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The Coming of the Maori

The Cord Drill

The Cord Drill

The cord drill (tuwiri, porotiti) was formerly used to drill holes in stone, bone, and shell. Though said to have been used also on wood, the elongated or four-sided holes in old woodwork indicate clearly that the general tool for making holes in wood was the stone chisel.

The drill was a composite implement composed of a wooden shaft, balance weight, stone point, and pulling cords. The shaft or spindle (pou, turuki) was between one and two feet long and three-quarters of an inch thick. Its lower end was cut to a shoulder against which the point (mata) of a flake of kiripaka or other stone was lashed with a flax-fibre cord. A page 195balance weight (huapae) of two stones or two pieces of heavy wood was tied to the shaft some inches above the point (Fig. 42b). A fly wheel sometimes formed the balance weight. It was made by tying four rods by their middle to the shaft and bending out the resultant eight spokes to tie their ends at even intervals to a circular hoop of vine or supplejack (Fig. 42c). A twisted cord (aha) was tied by its middle to the top end of the shaft, thus providing two pulling cords.

In using the tool, the point was placed on the object or in a depression pecked on it and the shaft was rotated by hand to wind up the two cords around the upper half of the shaft. Holding a knotted end in each hand, the cords were pulled outwards in opposite directions with just
Fig. 42. Chisel and drills.a, hafted chisel (Best, 12, pl. 15); b, c, cord drills (Best, 16, vol. 2, p. 196); d, pump drill (Hamilton, 46, p. 267).

Fig. 42. Chisel and drills.
a, hafted chisel (Best, 12, pl. 15); b, c, cord drills (Best, 16, vol. 2, p. 196); d, pump drill (Hamilton, 46, p. 267).

enough strength to unwind the cords by rotating the shaft and causing the momentum to rewind the cords. The cords were pulled again which caused the shaft to rotate in the opposite direction and rewind the cords. The strength of the outward pull and the inward slackening of the cords to allow them to rewind had to be timed to keep the shaft rotating in alternate directions with each pull. Best (12, p. 66) quotes an authority that first one string was pulled and then the other but I do not see how such a process could succeed. It is the simultaneous pull of the two cords in opposite directions that maintains the equilibrium of the shaft whereas a pull on one cord would draw the shaft over in the direction of the single pull.
page 196

The evidence collected by Best proves that the cord drill was the only form known in New Zealand previous to the introduction of the pump drill by Europeans. The pump drill is an improvement on the cord drill through the addition of a cross-bar (kurupae), to the ends of which the cords were tied. A pump drill used in the Urewera district and figured by Hamilton (46, p. 267), has a middle perforation through the cross-bar which moves freely up and down on the shaft. A circular wooden disc with a central hole formed a fly wheel (Fig. 42d). On winding up the cords, the attached cross-bar moved upwards on the shaft. Downward pressure on it caused the shaft to rotate and removal of the pressure allowed the cords to rewind on the overspin. By timing the pressure and release, the shaft was kept rotating in a manner exactly similar to that of the cord drill.

The pump drill has been described for Samoa but with the cross-bar free of the shaft. I saw one in Tutuila in 1927 being used to drill holes in the pearl-shell shanks of bonito hooks. After some practice, I could make the shaft rotate continuously and keep it upright by applying the intermittent pressure with the forefinger and middle finger on either side of the shaft. It was so easy to a novice that the Maori experts must have experienced little difficulty in keeping the cord drill vertical without a cap or other contrivance though such were apparently used in some districts. The pump drill was most probably introduced into Samoa by Europeans as it was in New Zealand.

Owing to the nature of the drill point, a hole bored from one side through the entire thickness of the material would have entailed much labour and made an unsightly large opening on the side of entrance. An easier and a better job was made by drilling from the two opposite sides so that the holes met in the middle to complete the perforation. The stone flake which increased in diameter from its point made a funnel-shaped hole and the opening was slightly increased or even rendered irregular by the unavoidable wobbling of the staff during drilling.