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The Coming of the Maori

Stone Axes

Stone Axes

Stone implements with a cutting edge bevel on two sides have raised the question as to whether they were hafted and used as axes or were simply a variety of adze. Best (12, p. 136) conducted an exhaustive inquiry among old Maori but as the use of stone tools had ended long before the page 191informants were born, the evidence was partly late hearsay and partly rationalization. The best evidence was afforded by the remembered classification of the toki implements into two groups termed toki aronui or toki hangai and toki titaha. The words aronui and hangai mean full face or face to the front and they were applied to the toki hafted with the face to the front with the axis of the cutting edge at right angles to the axis of the shaft. The word titaha means to turn sideways or turn the face to the side and hence toki titaha implies that the face or aronui was turned to the side to bring the axis of the cutting edge into line with the shaft. Furthermore, the shoulder formed by the upper border of the cutting-edge bevel with the back surface was termed uma (breast) and informants stated that the toki aronui had one uma whereas the toki titaha had two uma. Thus the toki aronui had one cutting-edge bevel
Fig. 39. Uncommon hafting.a, Rotatory (La Rochelle Mus., no. H526); b, lateral hafting (Best, 12, pl. 42).

Fig. 39. Uncommon hafting.
a, Rotatory (La Rochelle Mus., no. H526); b, lateral hafting (Best, 12, pl. 42).

characteristic of adzes and the toki titaha had two cutting-edge bevels characteristic of axes. Best pertinently asks why there should be distinctive qualifying terms such as aronui and titaha unless there were tools corresponding to the terms. When the Maori first saw the European axe, they called it a toki titaha. On the evidence, the implements with two bevels were termed toki titaha and were hafted as axes.

Though several quadrangular implements with two bevels have been collected, only one hafted specimen has been recorded. It was figured by Best (12, Pl 42) but is known to have been hafted after European occupation. The cutting edge is formed by equal bevels on the two wide surfaces, the foot of the haft is flattened on one side, and the adze butt is lashed to the toe by a braid of partly dressed fibre in transverse turns (Fig. 39b). The implement, as figured, is a laterally hafted axe and owing to its position on the side of the foot, the axis of its cutting edge is not page 192in the direct axis of the shaft but is parallel to it. The Mangarevan axes (97, p. 219), bevelled on two sides, were hafted to the front of the foot so that the cutting edge was in direct line with the axis of the shaft and the lashing was apparently effective (Fig. 41d). As it would be an advantage to have the cutting edge in direct line with the shaft, some doubt arises as to the age of the lateral technique supported by one specimen which was lashed long after such implements had gone out of use.