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Geology of the Provinces of Canterbury and Westland, New Zealand : a report comprising the results of official explorations

(A) First Appearance of Man in this Island

page 407

(A) First Appearance of Man in this Island.

It has already been pointed out that no exact boundary can be drawn between the Great Glacier, and the Quaternary periods, that in fact it is impossible to say, when the former ceased and the latter began. The same can be said still more truly of the era during which the Loess beds were deposited, the process of their formation still going on uninterruptedly at the present time. However one natural division might be proposed for New Zealand, namely to begin the Quaternary period there, where we meet the first sign of the presence of man. This line of division is however one liable to be shifted further back in course of time, when more discoveries in our younger beds are made, the results of extensive railway and road cuttings, well sinking, and mining operations, by which our knowledge in that respect will greatly be advanced in years to come. Or should, as it is not impossible, man already have lived in New Zealand during the latter part of the Great Glacier period, this proposed division would be no more of any value, and another more constant one would have to be adopted.

page 408

In the last chapter I have already pointed out, that the different morainic accumulations, now forming for several hundred miles a succession of cliffs along the west coast, have become united by a sand or shingle bar, thrown across the small bays between them, and that judging from the breadth of these deposits, a considerable space of time has been necessary for their formation. In the Historical Notes on page 160, I have already alluded to the fact, that polished stone implements have been found in auriferous deposits in Bruce Bay, and I may now add, that these beds, are a portion of the bar between two extensive morainic accumulations, Heretanewha Point to the south and Makowiho Point to the north. In Volume II of the Journal of the Ethnological Society of London, an account of this remarkable find has been published by me, from which, the fact in question being of considerable importance for the elucidation of the age and mode of formation of these beds, I shall here offer the following extracts.

Where at the west coast ancient level strips of land exist close to the sea, we find that the usual forest vegetation grows to the water's edge; but generally the level ground is of quite recent origin, as the land is gaining upon the sea, and new ground is continually formed. In localities of this nature we observe that the more we advance from high-water mark inland, the more luxuriant becomes the vegetation, exhibiting three distinct belts of peculiar growth. This is well shown in Bruce Bay (section 4, plate No 8). There is generally above high-water mark a zone 50—100 feet broad, consisting of fine drift-sand, usually forming small hillocks, amongst which a great mass of driftwood is decaying, but in which no other vegetation, except a few fungi on the rotten wood, makes its appearance. Then follows a second belt, also of sand, 80—150 feet broad, in which the drift-wood has already entirely disappeared. It is covered by vegetation, peculiar to such localities, consisting of sedges, rushes, and a few plants of higher organization. The following plants grow principally in this second or "Coprosma-acerosa, belt," as I propose to call it; namely, Coprosma acerosa, Juncus maritimus, Desmoschanus spiralis, Scirpus maritimus, Leptospermum scopiarum, Euphorbia glauca, Convolvulus soldanella, and Discaria toumatou.

A third distinct zone follows, from 300—500 feet broad, commonly called the " scrub-belt." The main mass of its vegetation consists of Coriaria ruscifolia, Coprosma petiolata, Coprosma Baueriana, Veronica salicifolia, Fuchsia excorticata, Griselinia littoralis, Phormium tenax and some other shrubby plants, generally with a dense undergrowth of page 409ferns belonging to the genera Asplenium, Polypodium, Lomaria, &c. The boundary between the first and second belt is not so distinct as that between the others, especially between the " shrub " and " forest belt," which is generally sharply defined.

In Bruce Bay, where the ground is rather swampy, the vegetation of this last-mentioned belt consists of the following trees:—Podocarpus dacrydioides, Podocarpus Totara, Dacrydium cwpressinum, Libocedrus Doniana, Weimnannia racemosa, Metrosideros lucida. Several species of Coprosma, Pittosporum, and fern-trees, as, for instance, Cyathea Smithii and Dicksonia squarrosa, grow between and below them, while the Rhipogonum scandens, the " supple-jack " of the colonists, interlaces the whole with its numerous flexible stems. Where the KieKie or Freycineiia Banksii occurs, which is not nnfrequent, this forest zone is almost impenetrable.

When I arrived in 1868 in Bruce Bay the two auriferous leads situated in the beginning of the second and third belts had already been worked out, and the miners were exclusively at work ont he third lead, situated in the forest-belt, where they had to sink 13—15 feet before the auriferous beds were reached. After having removed the large trees growing here, sometimes 4 feet in diameter, and standing closely together upon 8—12 inches of vegetable soil, in which the roots run horizontally, the miners passed through the following strata before the auriferous sands were reached:—

ft. in.
Flattened beach-shingle mixed with black sand 4 0
Black sand containing a little gold 0 2
Quartzose and black sands alternating repeatedly with each other 1 1
Large flattened shingle with some black iron, and quartzose sands, but not auriferous enough to pay for the extraction of the gold 6 5
Fine black sand, a little auriferous 1 0
Very coarse gravel 1 7
Auriferous black iron-sand, which is the layer of wash-dirt excavated for sluicing 0 6
14 9

This last layer reposes upon a bed of coarse gravel, which, being cemented by an argillaceous matrix, has materially assisted to retain the fine gold in the black sand above it.

From an examination of the section it will be seen that a long period of time must have elapsed before such a succession of beds could be ormed, because it is evident that the beaches have not been always receiving new additions, but deposits have been thrown up and again, page 410partially removed according to the prevailing winds. If we examine the different belts of vegetable life following each other with such distinctness, as we go inland, additional evidence is offered that considerable time was necessary to change the Goprosma-acerosa belt into the scrub-belt, and a still longer period had to elapse for the formation of a sufficient thickness of vegetable mould to allow the forest-trees to grow to such large dimensions. In the same forest, many and larger trees are lying prostrate on the ground, and in all stages of decay; sometimes their former existence being indicated only by long mossy ridges, so that we may safely conclude that the present fores t vegetation is not the first one, but that it was preceded by trees of the same species, and often of large dimensions, formerly growing there.

In one of the claims in this last described forest-belt, on the bottom of the wash-dirt, reposing directly upon the argillaceous gravel, a party of miners, consisting of S. Fiddean, J. Sawyer, and T. Harrison, found a stone chisel and a sharpening-stone lying close to each other; the former was broken, having been accidentally struck by the pick when the miners were loosening the wash-dirt. The stone chisel is made of a dark greenish chert, and is partly polished; the sharpening-stone is formed of a coarse greyish sandstone, which I found in situ about ten miles south of this locality, near the mouth of the river Paringa. The two stone implements now in the Canterbury Museum, were found a few days before my arrival, and it was quite accidentally in looking at the claim that I heard of their discovery.

I measured carefully the distance from high-water mark to the exact spot where they were discovered, and found it to be 525 feet, crossing the different belts as follows:—

First, or drift-wood belt 63
Second, or Coprosma-acerosa belt 95
Third, or Coriaria belt 330
Fourth, or White-pine belt 37

The beds through which the miners had been working were quite undisturbed, and some very large trees had been growing just above that portion of their claim near the centre of which these stone implements had been found. Owing to the dense forest covering the ground everywhere on the west coast of this island, these beaches are generally used for travelling, the favourable time of the receding tides being selected. I can easily imagine, therefore, how these stone implements page 411may have been left behind. When travelling with Maoris along that coast I hare, during a rest of a few moments, seen them repeatedly pull out a piece of greenstone and polish or cut it until the mot d'ordre to proceed was again given by me. In the same way the owner of these implements may have set to work, and when starting again either for-gotten them or left them behind when surprised by an enemy.

When writing the paper, from which so far I have given the principal contents, I was under the impression that the Moa-hunters had not possessed any polished stone implements, but used only roughly chipped ones, and that the fine series of such implements found in a cache in the Moa-hunter encampment at the Rakaia belonged to a later period, having accidentally been buried there, however the excavations in the Moa-bone Point Cave, of which I shall offer the principal results in the sequel, have established the fact beyond a doubt that the former Moa-hunters used both kinds. Thus it is evident that we cannot divide the former inhabitants of New Zealand into two distinct races, from their having exclusively used unpolished or polished stone implements corresponding with the palæolithic and neolithic periods of Europe. To the former belonged the now extinct Tasmanian aborigines, possessing only crudely chipped stone implements, whilst the Australians, standing not much higher in the scale of civilization than the Tasmanians did, generally used only polished stone implements. Exception must however be taken as to the manufacture of spear heads, vised in Northern Australia, being simply chipped from pieces of obsidian and of the stone implements of some of the Natives of Western Australia, which are of a very primitive type.*

Therefore, if a race so much inferior to the Maoris, as the Natives of Australia are, possess and possessed polished stone implements, it is not to be wondered at that a race so far advanced as the Moa-hunters should also have possessed them, as I shall show in the sequel. The Morioris or Native inhabitants of the Chatham Islands have used until quite lately, both polished and unpolished stone implements, according to the work to be performed by them. For the purpose of manufacture, polished stone tools were necessary, whilst for cutting up whales,

* "The hatchets found in Western Australia appear to point to one of the lowest types of creation, their stone implements being so primitive, that, unless the stones were found in gum and fixed to handles, I scarcely think it would be credited that they had ever been used for the important duties they had to serve."

On the Stone Implements of Australia, etc. by Jas, C. Cox, M.D.,.F.L.S, Proceedings of Linnean Society of New South Wales, Vol I, Page 22.

page 412or severing their extremely tough, sinews, chipped flint implenients were in request. The Moa-hunters in their turn in order to cut through the hard sinews of the DinornitJiidæ were also obliged to use similar primitive implements, forming them either by splitting off: a flake from a hard sandstone boulder, or taking when the material was obtainable, either flint, obsidian, or quartz, as offering the best cutting edges for the purpose. I have been informed that a number of polished stone implements, similar to those obtained at Bruce Bay have been found in some other auriferous beds at the West Coast, all testifying to the long period during which that portion of the country was occupied by man.

The facts at our disposal on the eastern side of the Island, confirm fully the observations made on the opposite coast. One of the most interesting localities where a great deal of valuable information was obtained by me, is the so-called Moa-bone Point Cave, and the sanddunes adjacent to it. In the previous chapter I have shown how in post-pliocene times from the material brought down by the enormous glacier torrents, forming huge shingle-fans at the foot of the glaciers, two bars were thrown across the sea near Banks' Peninsula; one to unite the northern or Wairnakariri-Ashley deposits with the northern slopes, another to connect the southern or Rakaia-Ashburton beds of the same nature with the southern slopes of that isolated volcanic system, behind which a large lake was formed, of which Lake Ellesmere is the last remnant. Of the northern bar we can trace the inner or western shores through Kaiapoi to the neighbourhood of Woodend. In this large fresh water lagoon (occasionally an estuary basin) the Waimakariri, Selwyn, and sometimes the Rakaia, discharged their waters, having an outlet near the north-western slopes of Banks' Peninsula, of which we can easily trace the lines of dunes and shingle by which the eastern shore of that lake was formed, being in the beginning very narrow, and only gradually, as more and more material was added, assuming a greater breadth. Thus, we are able to follow the different lines of these earliest-formed beds from, the mouth of the Waipara, where they are comparatively narrow, along the eastern boundary of Christchurch to the northern foot of the Peninsula, gradually becoming broader, and diverging more and more.

It is an important fact that the ovens and kitchen middens of the Moa-hunter are confined to the inner lines of the dunes. Thus it is evident that when the former inhabitants of this part of New Zealand page 413existed principally upon the chase of the Moa, the sand dunes had scarcely reached the foot of the Peninsula, where now the Ferry road crosses the Heatlicote, and consequently that the whole breadth of the sand dunes from opposite that locality to the Sumner bar, where they have now their south-eastern termination, have been formed since.

These series of sand dunes have a breadth of several miles, and consequently a long period of time must have necessarily elapsed duing which they were gradually built up by wind and waves. D uring quaternary times, or the Moa-hunter age, the extensive estuary of the Heathcote Avon in its present form was not yet in existence. Close to the cavity now called the Moa-bone Point Cave, and on its western side, a hard doleritic lava-stream, now passed through by the Sumner road cutting, reached for some distance into the sea, forming a small head land, against which, principally on its eastern side, the waves of the Pacific Ocean broke with considerable force. Masses of rock were detached by the surf, being taken along in an easterly direction for about a quarter of a mile, forming a ridge, gradually becoming lower and losing itself amongst the sands. The formation of this ridge principally took place when this portion of the Peninsula was some twelve or fifteen feet lower than at present, the upper line of boulders being about sixteen feet above the present high-water mark. When the land rose again, the sea was cut off by this boulder ridge from the entrance of the cave, a hugh rock lying here nearly across, protecting it at the same time from being filled up by the deposits of drift sands now forming on the flat, close to it. A second and lower line of boulders was formed in front of the former about five feet above the present high-water mark, with a small terraced space behind it. Since then, other deposits, formed in the Avon-Heathcote estuary, have been added as a small belt in front of this last line of boulders, brought into its present position by the action of the open sea. In section No. 1, Plate. No. 9, I have given the necessary details in illustration of these points.

It will also be seen from this section that most valuable and con elusive evidence is offered to us, as to the time of the first appearance of the Moa-hunters, and their disappearance from the field, when these gigantic birds became either extinct or were driven to less congenial localities inland, and I therefore shall in the following pages offer a condensed account of my excavations in that cave and its neighbour hood, together with some conclusions upon the results obtained.

page 414

The entrance of the cave, about forty feet from the crown of the Sumner road, which has here an altitude of 18.59 feet above high-water mark, is situated nearly five feet lower, or 13.64 feet above high water, taking the level of the surface for our line. An opening, about 30 feet broad by eight feet high, being, however, much narrowed by a huge rock, leads into the cave, of which I found the floor slightly sloping down. The cave itself consists of three compartments, of which the first one possesses by far the greatest dimensions, running nearly due north and south, and being 102 feet long, 72 feet broad towards the middle, and about 24 feet high. From its termination, by a small passage, a second cave is reached, which is 18 feet long, 14 feet wide, and about 11 feet high; its direction being north by west to south by east; at its southern end a small passage, three feet high, by about 2.50 feet broad, leads into a third or inner chamber, which is 22 feet long, with an average width of 16 feet, and about 20 feet high, running again like the principal cave, due north and south; its floor being about eight feet above high-water mark. An examination of the surface beds showed that the floor of the main cave was, in some localities, covered with the remains of European occupation, in many others by the excrements of goats and cattle, introduced into Canterbury by the Europeans in 1839; but that everywhere below them, when visible, portions of shells of mollusks were occurring, the same species as still inhabit the Estuary close by, and had served as food to the Natives of the islands visiting the cave in former times. Towards the end of the main cave these beds gradually thinned out and were mixed with each other, till at the entrance to the second cave, marine sands,, the former floor of the cave, reached the surface.

The excavations undertaken under my direction in this cave, during the latter part of the year 1872, and of which the details were given in my communication to the Philosophical Institution of Canterbury, "Researches and Excavations carried on in and near the Moa-bone Point Cave, Sumner Eoad, printed in Vol. VII. of the Transactions of the New Zealand Institute, page 54 and sequ." have made us acquainted with the following general facts:—

A nearly level floor of marine sands existed, resting upon the rocky bottom of the cave, these sands being 4½ feet above high-water mark at the entrance of the cave, and gradually rising to 8 feet near its termination. There is no evidence from which could be concluded when the big block at the entrance of the cave fell down from the roof to narrow the former so considerably, but I have no doubt that this took place page 415before the sea had left the care entirely, by being shut out by the boulder bank in front of the entrance, the crown of which rises 16 feet above high-water mark. However, both the boulder bank and this rock at the entrance of the cave, prevented the drift sands from entering and filling it, so that when the Moa-hunters landed with their canoes in some of the nooks of the rocky shore in the vicinity, they found a capital shelter in the cave, whilst the Peninsula, then probably an island, and the opposite shores of the main land offered them a fine hunting ground. It appears from the examination of the sea sands, that the first visitors of the cave entered it only occasionally, and still more rarely used it as a cooking place. This might have taken place after the waves of the sea had been shut out from the cave by the formation of the boulder bank in front of it, probably assisted by a rise of the land, but it is possible that at exceptionally high tides the water still entered the cave, as some of the broken Moa-bones, and of the boulders of which the cooking ovens in the south-western portion were formed, were imbedded nearly twelve inches deep in the sands. The bed of ashes and dirt which here, and in a few other places, underlies the next or agglomeratic bed, clearly proves that before the last-mentioned deposit was formed, fires had been lighted occasionally upon the sands. The discovery of drift wood in the cave, often of considerable size, of several seal skeletons, and of a portion of a lower human jaw, is a proof that during the deposition of the sands it was easily accessible to the waves-of the sea.

In these marine sands blocks of rock of all sizes are imbedded, having fallen from the roof, and possessing a more or less rounded shape, such as is exhibited by scorise, formed during the flow of a large lava-stream in its upper and lower portions. When the waves of the sea finally retreated, a great number of these fragments fell for a considerable time from the roof, forming a nearly uniform layer of an average thickness of six inches above the marine sands, and being generally thicker where the cave is highest. This fall was, without doubt, caused by the interior of the cave gradually getting drier. During the whole time of the formation of this remarkable deposit, the cave appears to have been occasionally inhabited, as evinced by the great number of bones and of small quantities of charcoal and ashes enclosed in the bed under consideration. Above this agglomerated bed another remarkable layer has been deposited, generally three to four inches in thickness, mostly consisting of refuse matter from human occupation and of ashes, so that I adopted the name of dirt-bed for page 416the same. It was especially in some localities, as for instance, near the entrance of the cave, replete with kitchen middens of the Moahunters. During its formation or even afterwards, the fall of the rocks from the roof did not cease, as all the beds upwards, even those of European origin, have small lumps of such scoria, or even larger blocks imbedded in them. But now, after the formation of the dirt-bed, as it were at once, the Moa-hunters disappear from the scene; but not without affording an insight into their daily life, by leaving us some of their polished and unpolished stone implements, a few of their smaller tools made of bone, a few personal ornaments, as well as fragments of canoes, whares, and of wooden spears, fire sticks, and other objects too numerous to mention; but by which the fact is established that they had reached already a certain state of civilisation, which in many respects seems not to have been inferior to that possessed by the Maoris when New Zealand was first visited by Europeans.

That after the depositions of the dirt-bed the cave remained uninhabited for a considerable space of time, is not only proved by the clear line of demarcation between that layer and the shell bed above it, in which no moa-bones were found, but also by the deposit of blown sands about a foot thick at the entrance, and gradually thinning out as it advances towards the interior of the cave. Then follows a series of shell beds, consisting of the remains of the following species, now still inhabiting the estuary:—Chione.stutchluryi (Cockle); Huai or Pipi, Mesodesma chemnitzii, Pipi; Ampliibola avellana (Periwinkle) Hetikutiku, and Mytilus smaragdinus (Mussel) Kuku; interstratified or intermixed with them occur a number of ashbeds, with pieces of flax, cabbage tree leaves, charred wood, and remains of mats, wooden and stone implements.

Some of the shell-beds, generally in their lower portion, are much decomposed. The whole series has near the entrance of the cave, a thickness of more than 8 feet, gradually thinning out, so that in the centre of the cave it has dwindled to about 4 feet, and disappearing altogether near the termination of the first or principal cave. The thickness and sequence of the beds, and the identity of species proves clearly that a native population, living principally upon the mollusks now inhabiting the estuary, have occupied every part of the cave during a very long period, that portion near the entrance being of course preferred. It is thus evident that when the Shellfish-eaters came upon the scene, the Moa-hunters had not only disappeared for a page 417considerable time past, but the estuary had also since then been formed, or perhaps more correctly stated, the sands had gained so much upon the sea shore, that the purely marine species had disappeared from the neighbourhood of the cave, the estuary species taking their place. On the top of these deposits, formed by an aboriginal population, beds of minor thickness, the result of European occupancy together with dung of goats, sheep, cattle and horses, had in many localities been accumulated.

In the lower, or Moa-hunters' beds, were bones of the following species:—Dinornis robustus, Palapteryx crassus, Euryapteryx gravis, Euryapteryx rlieides, Meionornis casuarinus, Meionornis didiformis, Aptornis defossor, Aptornis otidiformis, of which those of Meionornis didiformis and Euryapteryx rlieides were the most numerous, and tracheal rings and portions of eggshells of Moas. Besides them remains of the following Mammals were obtained:—Ziphioid whales, sea leopard, Stenorhynchus leptonyx; fur seal, Arctoceplialus lobatus (?) and einereus; small fur seal, Gypsophoca subtropicalis; dog, Canis, sp. Porpoise.

Of birds still belonging to the Avifauna of New Zealand, the f ollow.ing species were represented:—Graeulus punctatus, spotted shag; Eudyptula undina, small blue penguin; Anas superciliosa, grey duck; Graeulus caroo, black shag; Graculus varius, pied shag; Graculus brevirostris, white throated shag; Ossifraga gigantea, nelly; Apteryx australis, large kiwi, Nestor meridionalis, kaka; Stringops halroptilus, kakapo, and some other undetermined species. The Kiwi and Kakapo are long extinct in the Peninsula, and now only found on the western side of the Central Chain in this part of the South Island. There were also a few bones of Oligorus gigas, hapuku.

The upper or shell beds were principally made up of Mytilus smaragdinus, mussel; Chione stucliburyi, cockle; Mesodesma chemnitzii, pipi; Amphihola avellana, periwinkle; Mesodesma cuneata; all four numerous; Lutraria deshayesii, kokotu, about thirty of them lying very close together on the dirt-bed, of Mactra discors. Voluta paciftca, Turbo smaragdinus, Unio aucklandicus, and Haliotis iris, a few of each. Besides them, most of the mammals and birds already enumerated as occuring in the lower beds, were also represented, except of course the extinct Dinornithdæ.

Close to the cave, numerous kitchen middens, both of the Moahunters and Shellfish-eaters are situated. When speaking of the page 418position of the cave, I alluded already to the two lines of boulder deposits running from the western headland in an easterly direction, and gradually diminishing in height and size. Between them and the foot of Bants' Peninsula, near the cave, drift sands very soon accumulated, by which a quarter of a mile to the east these boulders were gradually covered. About 200 feet east of the cave, the mountainous portion of Bants' Peninsula recedes nearly a quarter of a mile to the south, the low ground being here also covered by drift sand, many acres in extent, the highest points 30 feet above high-water mark. On this flat, first the Moa-hunters, and afterwards their successors, the Shellfisheaters, had extensive camping grounds. Although in many places the kitchen middens of the older and newer occupants, owing to the changeable nature of the shifting sands, have become mixed tip so as in many cases to make it impossible to fix a clear line of demarcation between them; in other instances that peculiarity of the sands has caused them to be very well preserved, and the space between both sets of beds sharply defined. In the first instance we find that the Moa-hunters had numerous cooking places amongst these dunes, situated often closely together, which after use became filled up to some extent by the refuse of their feasts, whilst very often a larger heap of broten bones, eggshells, etc., had been thrown a few feet from the oven. In other instances they show distinctly that before the shell-fish eating population visited this locality, the refuse heaps of the Moa-hunters had already been covered with sand, and became thus protected from their successors. In another spot, without doubt by rain and wind, a portion of the dunes upon which the refuse heap of the Moa-hunters had been deposited, had become partly destroyed. The same spot had afterwards been used as a campiug ground by the Shellfish-eaters, their kitchen middens having been thrown over the side into a hollow, thus covering as it were unconformably the former deposits of human occupancy.

Thus also here, the distinction in age and character of the beds under review is well established. My friend the Rev. J. W. Stack to whom I am greatly indebted for most valuable assistance, readily afforded to me during a number of years, in elucidating the ethnological question in respect to former populations, informs us that the native traditions* considered uncertain, ascribe the shell heaps to a tribe Te Eapuwai or Ngapuhi who spread themselves over the greater part of the Island, and

* From Traditional History of the South Island Maoris, by the Bey. J. W. Stack, Transactions, of the New Zealand Institute, Vol. X., page 61

page 419that it was in their time, that the country around Inyercargill is said to nave been submerged, the forests of Canterbury and Otago destroyed by fire, and the Moa exterminated.

From the fact, that events occurring in such distant eras are referred to one and the same people, we can safely conclude that the traditions respecting them are more than uncertain. The shell heaps which can be traced from the mouth of the Waipara to Banks' Peninsula, occur always in the more westerly portion of the sandhills. They exist often in several rows, so as to suggest that gradually as new dunes were formed along the coast, the Shellfish-eaters advanced also with their cooking places, so as not to be too far from the seashore, where they collected their food, and obtained the necessary firewood from the drift timber. That the human occupation of this Island dates back for a considerable period we have another clear evidence in the numerous ovens lining the banks of the old Waimakariri channel, crossed by the Southern Railway line about eight miles from Christchurch. The river at that time was evidently falling into the large lake existing then (Lake Ellesmere extension). The channel in question must have contained a large body of water, or the Natives would not have used it as a favourable camping ground. There are several other localities at the East coast, whence important evidence is offered to us as to the character, and mode of life of the autochthones inhabiting New Zealand during the Quaternary period. In several papers, the results of my researches in the ancient Moa-hunters' encampments on both sides of the River Rakaia near its mouth have been offered to the public (See Transactions of New Zealand Institute, Vol. TV., page 66 and sequ.), to which I have to refer the reader, as I can here only give a short résumé of the same.

The principal and best preserved Moa-hunter encampment is situated on the northern bank of the Rakaia close to its entrance to the sea, where it is joined by the little Eakaia. The Canterbury plains run here uninterruptedly to the banks of the latter tributary, forming vertical cliffs about 12 feet high, whilst towards the main river they are bounded by two terraces of four and eight feet altitude. This old dwelling place of the Moa hunting population was therefore situated in the triangular space thus formed, and covered an area of more than twenty acres, a portion of the property of Mr Cannon, to whose courtesy and kind assistance during my researches, I am much indebted.

On the lower terrace, proofs of more recent, or as I may term it, Maori occupation are chiefly to be found, but some ovens and kitchen page 420middens of the Moa-hunters occur also there. The principal settlement was however situated about sixty yards from both rivers, and judging from the lines of Moa ovens and kitchen middens, the dwelling places followed the same direction as the terraced ground. The ovens consist in the centre of five to six rows, but near the banks of both rivers they diminish considerably in number. They are either empty or nothing but loess, silt, or vegetable soil lies upon the stones of which they are built up, or they are filled with heaps of broken bones, chips of chert and knives of sandstone, this refuse sometimes also forming heaps in close proximity to the ovens. All these remains are invariably covered by three to sis inches of soil having the character of loess. Some of the ovens are of an oval shape eight feet long and five feet broad, others are more circular and about eight feet in diameter. The outer rim is generally built up with larger stones, similar ones fill the interior, piled in four to five layers upon each other, of which, of course, many by the intensity of the heat have been split into angular fragments. [From five to eight of these ovens are usually lying together, with intervals of about 20 yards between them and the next group, the ground between them having probably been the camping ground of the Moa-hunters. Here large flat stones, 10 to 12 inches long and six to eight inches broad are also found, together with a longish round boulder also of large dimensions; they were doubtless used for breaking the bones in order to extract the marrow. All these stones without exception, had to be carried from the rivers or sea shore to the plains, and their great quantity testifies that for a long time, this locality must have been a favourite resort of the interesting people inhabiting the country at that distant period.

Proceeding to an examination of the kitchen middens or refuseheaps, we observe that by far the greater portion consists of Moa, bones, belonging to several species, identical with those obtained in the turbary deposits of Grlenmark. As pointed out in former publications. Meionornis casuarinus is there the most common species, then follow according to their number M. didiformis, Palapteryx elepliantopus, Euryajpterycx gravis and rheides, all living doubtless in droves, whilst—Dinornis gracilis, struthioides, inaximus and robustus, mostly represented by a few specimens only, had probably solitary habits. The same rule holds good in the Rakaia kitchen middens, where the more or less frequent occurrence of bones belonging to the different species enumerated above, coincides closely with observations made on the subject in Glenmark. Of the smaller species of our extinct page 421Avifauna, Cnemiornis is also represented by a few bones. We obtained also, bones of Rallus pectoralis, Larus dominicanus, Porphyrio melanotus, Diomedea melanophris, Limosa uropygialis, and of several ducks. Apteryx bones were missing; but this may be easily explained by the distance of timber covered country from the encampment. A remarkable feature, is the total absence of the bones of the Weka (Ocydromus australis), a bird at present found all over the Island in great numbers. This fact is still more striking after the same observation has been made, amongst the kitchen middens in the Moa-bone Cave, and outside amongst the sandhills. Could this bird have been confined during the Dinornis era to the forest regions, kept there by the attacks made upon it by the large birds, or was it not yet an inhabitant of this portion of New Zealand?! The different species of seals till now frequenting the coasts of New Zealand, are also represented by a number of bones, so as to prove that they also were used for food. Another interesting fact here, as well as in the Moa-bone Point Cave, is the frequent occurrence of tympanic bones of whales, all belonging to the smaller species living near the New Zealand coasts. These bones are mostly in a fragmentary state, having been broken in such a way, that the interior cavity or lower surface remains intact. It is difficult to understand for what purpose these bones might have been brought up to the encampment. The dog is always represented in these refuse heaps, being in some localities so abundant, that quite a collection of skulls, lower jaws and limb bones, belonging to numerous specimens, mostly of the same size, could be made. This dog is of a size between the dingo and fox, powerfully built, the skull is rather short to its breadth, the canine teeth are generally natter and sharper, than in the domestic, dog, and have in many instances a well defined front and back edge. The premolars in comparison with the molars are much smaller than either fox, dingo, or any of the domestic dogs of which skulls are in the Canterbury Museum. The measurements of the skulls, both from the Eakaia, and Moa-bone Point Cave, agree very well with those of the ancient Maori dog given by Dr. Hector in Vol. IX. of the " Transactions of the New Zealand Institute," page 248.

From the manner the dog bones arebroken and mixed with Moa-bones, "it is evident that the dog was also considered a favourite food by the Moa-hunters, but it is difficult to believe that it was domesticated by them. Although I have examined thousands of bones collected in these refuse heaps, many of them very minute and delicate, I never was able to find the least trace that they had been gnawed. The same observa-page 422tion was made by me at the Moa-hunter encampment, at the mouth of the Shag river, Otago. Thus, we are compelled to believe that the Moa-hunters only chased the dog then living in a wild state in New Zealand, without having as yet domesticated it. It is difficult to conceive how that animal could have come to New Zealand, unless brought by some vessel and then become feral, as afterwards the domestic pig did after Captain Cook's visit. "We know from the researches of Messrs. Lartet and Christy in the caves of southern Prance, and of the Rev. J. M. Mello in the Robin Hood Cave in Derbyshire, that the European palæolithic hunters had evidently no domestic dog, but in both localities all traces of canis familiaris are entirely missing. Admitting the Maori traditions, which state distinctly that they brought the domestic dog (Kuri) with them from Hawaiki, it is evident that these kitchen middens of the Moa-hunters must date back to a period much anterior to their arrival in New Zealand. No human bones were found in connection with these kitchen middens, so that there is strong presumptive evidence for believing that the Moahunters were not addicted, to anthropophagy.

The number of stone implements and flakes in these refuse heaps, obtained by digging or turned up by deep ploughing all over the field, is very large. Well shaped flint implements are however rare. Some of them are of the palæolithic spear shaped pattern of Europe, othersare of the oval shaped hatchet type, others resemble knives, scrapers, awls and saws of the same period. They are all flat on one side, all blows having been struck on the other. The flakes generally having a sharp cutting edge, were doubtless used for the purpose of cutting through the sinews and ligaments of the big birds. They are made of flint, palla, quartz, chalcedony and obsidian. Cores are found sometimes in the same kitchen middens, showing how these flakes were there and then broken off when wanted. The most primitive form of stone implement however, and one of the commonest is the fragment of a hard silicious sandstone broken off with a single blow from a large boulder. The latter was always selected in such a form that, if frac tured in the right way, it would yield a sharp cutting edge. These primitive knives are mostly three to four inches long by two to three inches broad, the edges of some of them have been manufactured into a saw by a number of small chips having been taken off on both sides.

In the fine and interesting volume of the " United States Geological Survey of 1872," published by Dr. Hayden there occurs the following page 423passage, page 653, in tlie article " On Remains of Primitive Art in the Bridger Basin of Southern Wyoming," by Professor Jos. Leidy. " I may take the opportunity of speaking of a stone implement of the Shoshone Indians, of so simple a character that had I not observed it in actual use, and had noticed it amongst the material of the buttes, I should have viewed it as an accidental spawl. It consists of a thin, segment of a quartzite boulder, made by striking the stone with a smart blow. The implement is circular or oval with a sharp edge, convex on one side, and flat on the other. It is called a ' teshoa,' and is employed as a scraper in dressing buffalo skins. By accident I learned that the implement is not only modern, as I obtained one of the same character, together with some perforated tusks of the elk, from an old Indian grave, which had been made on the upper end of a butte, and had become exposed by the gradual wearing away of the latter."

The figure of this " teshoa" a name which I wish to adapt for similar stone implements in New Zealand, is so like one of the latter that it would be impossible to distinguish them if placed side by side. At the same time I wish to observe that the description and figures of the flint-flakes, roughly chipped, found in Indian graves, etc., are so much like those obtained in the Moa-hunter encampment that there is no doubt that the former aborigines of New Zealand employed the same mode of manufacture and used the same form of rude stone implements as the primitive races of Europe and North America.

No polished stone implements were found in any of the kitchen, middens, but a number were obtained scattered over the fields after the ground had been ploughed. They were mostly manufactured from, chertose rocks; Mr. Cannon however found a considerable number together in a câche Some of these stone implements are of considerable size and finish, some are partly finished, others only chipped in the form of adzes and chisels. Also a few greenstone. (Nephrite) adzes were found in the same field, but as in the kitchen middens of the Moa-hunters never any implement made of that material, or chips, or flakes were obtained, we must conclude that the greenstone was not yet discovered at that time; it is therefore evident that the few worked Nephrite implements are of later origin, the Maori track for the crossing place of the Rakaia passing over the same piece of ground. Discussions as to the possibility of prehistoric people having both chipped and polished stone implements in use have often taken place in Europe. Judging from the implements of the Moahunters it is beyond a doubt that they used both, and thus it can truly page 424be said, that they have lived in a palæolithic and neolithic period combined into one. That in the palæolithic period in Europe, the period of the Mammoth and Rhinoceros, only chipped stone implements were used, cannot be denied; but I think it has been proved beyond a doubt, that also during the neolithic period in Europe, when polished stone implements were used for the purpose of warfare and manufacture, the chipped implements were not discarded, in fact, for many uses the latter were indispensable, as for instance for carving and cutting; in that respect, therefore, the Moa-hunters may fairly be considered as having reached the same stage of advance as some of the prehistoricneolithic people in Europe.

Considering the Moa-hunters from an anthropological point of view, it is of the utmost difficulty, at least for the present, to state with any degree of exactness if they belonged to a race different to the Polynesians, who according to the traditions of the natives now inhabiting these islands, immigrated to New Zealand some six hundred years ago, in a number of canoes, from Hawaiki, or if the mixed character exhibited in the Maoris, has been imported with them, this having been caused by intermixture with Melanesians and Negritos on their advance towards New Zealand. It would be beyond the scope of this chapter to bring all the evidence forward, which has been adduced from both sides to prove the one or the other, some of the principal traditions are however here given The late Rev. Richard Taylor states in the second edition of " Te Ika a Maui " from what he considers reliable traditions, that the Hawaiki immigrants not only found, when they landed on the coast of New Zealand a black (Melanesian) population, but they also discovered kitchen middens with Moa-bones and flint implements." If these traditions can be relied upon it shows at any rate that the black race before the arrival of their successors had been hunting and probably extirpating the Moa. So when relating the tradition of Manaia, Taylor quotes from Sir George Grey:—"When he arrived at Rotuhu, at the mouth of the River Waitara, he stopped there and behold there were people, even the ancient inhabitants of the islands, but Manaia and his followers slew them. They were killed and Manaia possessed their abode, he, his sons, and his people, of those men that Manaia and his followers slew that the place might be theirs." According to Taylor, the same is recorded of Tnri who " went on shore and dwelt at Patea and slew the inhabitants thereof" (page 14). This aboriginal race was remembered as the Maero and Mohoao, or wild men of the woods (page 15). Enumerating on page 290, the arrival of the original page 425canoes in New Zealand, he adds a footnote to No. 12 Te Rangi ua mutu, which came to Rangatapu " On. the arrival at that place they saw stones like English flints and Moa bones. It is there that I also discovered a large quantity of the bones of the Dinornis. The stones were the stone-flakes used as knives which are still there found by the side of the ancient ovens, a proof of their having belonged to a more ancient race than, the Polynesian."

The Rev. W. Colenso, F.L.S., in his excellent essay "On the Maori races of New Zealand," Vol. I. Transactions of the New Zealand Institute, on page 394, answers the question, "Were there autochthones? —as follows. " Possibly, or rather, very likely—(a) From the fact that no large island like New Zealand, however, distant from the nearest land, is uninhabited, (b) From the fact, that nearly all the numerous islands in the Pacific, though vastly smaller in size, teem with population, (c) From the fact of a remnant, at present existing in the Chatham Islands (the nearest land to New Zealand), of a race which is allowed by the present New Zealander to be truly aboriginal, and before them in occupation, (d) Prom their traditions and fear of " wild men " in the interior, (e) Prom the allusions and even direct statements in their traditionary myths of their having found inhabitants on their arrival in the country, both at Waitara on the west coast of the North Island, and at Rotorua in the interior. But if there were, which appears very probable, they have been destroyed, or become amalgamated with the present race."

So far for the Northern Island. The traditions of the South Island according to the valuable researches of the Rev. James W. Stack, published in Vol. X. of the "Transactions of the New Zealand Institute" are not so distinct, but it is nevertheless evident, that before the "Waitaha went to dwell in this Island other tribes of people had been in existence. Mr. Stack calls the traditions concerning the first, fabulous; and the second, uncertain. He states that the KahuiTipua, or ogre band, a mythical race, are said to have been the first occupants of this land, they_are described as giants and sorcerers. They were succeeded by Te Rapuwai or Nga ai tanga a te Puhirire, who have left traces of their occupation in the shell heaps, found both along the coast and far inland. Then follows Waitaha, one of the original immigrants from Hawaiki, the founder of the tribe, who came in the canoe Arawa; he or his immediate descendants peopled the Soutk Island, they are consequently the first inhabitants claiming to have, been immigrants from Hawaiki.

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It is very peculiar that the traditions of the Kahui Tipua or ogre band, speak only of Weka hunts, whilst the shell heaps, much younger in age than the kitchen middens of the Moa-hnnters, are said to have been formed by the second set of inhabitants, Te Rapuwai. Although a number of human skeletons have been found in sandhills, swamps,, or covered with a deep layer of soil, having to all appearances been long in the ground, there is no sufficient evidence to conclude that they date back to the time when the Moa was still in existence. There is however, strong probability that the burial place near the Moa-bone Point Cave, described in Vol. VII. of the " Transactions of the New Zealand Institute " was used by the Moa-hunters having their encampment on the other side of the outrunning ridge close by, but there is no direct evidence to form such a connection.

Moreover, the two skulls obtained in this burial place are very defective, and have undergone such prolonged maceration, that they have become much deformed by the weight of the superincumbent soil. However, so much is certain, that they possess some characters in many respects different from true Polynesian skulls. Besides these skulls, the Canterbury Museum possesses several others obtained from similar localities, but unfortunately they are in the same defective state; some of them, are brachycephalic, others dolichocephalic, but all of them of small size, in that respect approaching the Negrito type. The skeletons were, with one or two exceptions, found in a sitting position, the knees close to the chin, and generally having several (mostly three) polished stone implements with them, always placed near the middle of the body. It is evident that the Melanesian or Papuan affinities in some of these skulls must be very great, because this has not only been pointed out repeatedly by some of the most experienced craniologists, but even their being Maori skulls has been denied altogether. In the year 1868, I sent to the late Professor C. G. Carus, two Maori skulls obtained from some sandhills near the Selwyn; but that eminent physiologist upon examining them, informed me that I must have made some mistake, as these skulls could not be of Maori origin, but must have belonged to some other race. Unfortunately, before my answer arrived in Dresden, the illustrious octogenarian had in the meantime passed away, but Professor Leuckart, in Leipsic, was kind enough to compare them with (what he calls) a genuine Maori skull, and has informed me that they cannot be distinguished from the latter. However, it may be possible, that the Maori skull in question when compared with a large series of others, may also prove to be of a page 427different type. When Dr. Filhol, the French naturalist paid us a visit some years ago, he collected a number of skulls in the sandhills, on the east coast of Otago, which are now in the Paris Museum. Professor C. de Quatrefages, another celebrated craniologist, under whose charge that Museum is, informed me, in one of his letters—" Les cranes que nous possedons ont permis d'affirmer la presence d'un element Papoua parmis les Maoris."

The last, and no mean authority, writing on the subject, is Professor W. H. Flower, F.R.S., the eminent conservator of the Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons, in London. In a lecture lately delivered before the Royal Institution of Great Britain, the following passage occurs, which strongly confirms the opinions of the two former naturalists:—" The Maoris, or native population of New Zealand, if true Polynesians, as is usually supposed, have departed considerably from the Samoan type. They are darker in colour, have usually more curl in their hair, stronger beards, more prominent and aquiline noses longer heads (the average cranial index of all that I have measured 75), rather lower orbits (89), and slightly wider though still leptorhine noses (47). It is possible that this change of type may have taken place, simply as the result of three or four centuries isolation under different conditions, and is therefore something similar to that which appears to be in process among the English in North America; but it is very suggestive of an admixture of Melanesian blood, as every one of the points mentioned, form an approximation more or less pronounced towards that race. Although it has been doubted by some authors, it is asserted by others, that there are Maori traditions indicating the existence of an aboriginal population, though probably not a numerous one, upon these islands before they were invaded from Rarotonga, in the beginning of the fifteenth century. If this were the case, they were probably Melanesians, and their absorption into the ranks of the conquering race would cause the physical changes noted above." We thus observe that there is a general agreement as to the mixed character of the Maori race, whether the same be based upon an examination of the skulls from ancient graves, or of those of the present population.

There is still another point of considerable importance, to which I wish to draw the attention of the reader, namely—the ancient rock paintings found in many portions of this Island. They prove beyond a doubt, that New Zealand many centuries ago, has been visited by a people having different manners, customs, and religious page 428conceptions, than the Maoris possess. In Yol. X. of the " Transactions of the New Zealand Institute," I have offered a fac-simile and description of those found in a shallow cave in the Weka Pass ranges. From their partial state of preservation, notwithstanding they have been so well sheltered from atmospheric influences, they bear the stamp of considerable age upon them. This conclusion is strengthened by the fact, that a series of newer paintings and of a different character, have at various periods been executed over them. The traditions of the Maoris—who, like everything they cannot understand—ascribe them to the Ngapuhi, a somewhat mythical people. However, the strongest proof of their being foreign to native handicraft, is the character of these paintings, consisting as they do of primitive representations of serpents, lizards, whales, quadrupeds, many of them in monstrous forms, together with drawings of other objects, representing probably weapons, implements or clothing, all of which the Maoris do not possess, nor do they know their use. But the most important portion of these drawings for the elucidation of their meaning, are certain letters or symbolic signs. Being aware that a bronze bell with an ancient Tamil inscription, had been found in the Northern Island, now in the possession of the Rev. William Colenso in Napier, I compared these signs with the letters on the bell, as published with Mr. J. T. Thomson's paper,— " Ethnographical Considerations of the ' Whence the Maori,' " in the " Transactions of the New Zealand Institute," Yol. IV., and found that there was a strong resemblance; I came therefore to the conclusion that these drawings had been made by some people coming from, or having had some intercourse with, Indian or Malayan countries. This opinion was strengthened by an examination of the drawings by the Rev. R. Pargiter, who living for many years in Ceylon, and thoroughly conversant with the Tamil and other Oriental languages, came to the conclusion that although none of the figures have the exact form of any single Tamil character, there is nevertheless a great resemblance. Mr. Pargiter mates however another important suggestion, that some of these so-called inscriptions may be the signatures of the artist, as according to his experience, the Tamil natives have a peculiar way of combining two or more letters to one character, difficult to decipher except by the writer and those best acquainted with him. Since that account was published, the rock paintings in question have been examined by Mr. A. Mackenzie Cameron, M.S.B.A., Interpreter of Oriental languages to the Government of New South Wales, in Sydney, who has made early alphabets and symbols his special studies. Mr. Cameron after the closest investigation into the subject, has come to page 429the conclusion, that the peculiar figures above alluded to, consisting either of three circles near each other, or two joined circles, the socalled spectacle ornament, are Oriental pre-christian symbols and not letters, and as such, carrying with them the evidence of high antiquity. He considers them to be the Trinity symbol, the pictorial expression of the ancient religious creed of India, and which was carried by the Buddhist Missionaries all over the world. Mr. Cameron states that these symbols are found alike on great Buddhist Temples in India, on the Bhilsa topes, on the standing stone of Aberdeen, and on the Dingwall stone in North Britain.

From a linguistic and ethnological examination of a few words associated with the oldest New Zealand traditions, Mr. Cameron aduces further arguments to associate the so-called mythical races in this Island with some of the oldest inhabitants of India. An examination of similar rock paintings in this Island, not uncommon in some parts in the interior, and a study of their contents, will doubtless throw considerable light on the former inhabitants of these islands, and clear away some of the haze by which the ancient history of the autochthone race of New Zealand has been surrounded.

From the material collected in the Moa-bone Point Cave, and at the Rakaia Moa-hunter Encampment, on both sides of the river, and at some other localities, we can form a good conception of the mode of life of the people at that distant time. Owing to the perfectly dry soil in the Moa-bone Point Cave, many objects have been preserved, which, under ordinary circumstances would have decayed. Thus we obtained several portions of canoes, of totara piles belonging to a Wata (provision store), and of spears; their apparatus for obtaining fire, both by circular motion, and rubbing lengthwise, and a fork made of manuka wood. Of smaller or ornamental objects, the following are worth noticing:—the canine tooth of a dog, and some marine gasteropod shells bored at the base, a few pieces of Moa bones, partly prepared for fishhooks, a needle made of the humerus, and an awl made of the distal end of the tibia of Ossifraga gigantea, and ornaments made of the humerus of the albatross, probably to be suspended from the neck; also a number of polished and chipped stone implements and flakes were obtained.

To sum up the evidence as to the presence and mode of life of quaternary man in this part of New Zealand, the following points may fairly be considered to have been so far proved:—

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  • 1. There existed in quaternary times an autochthone race in New Zealand, having, like the present inhabitants more or less strong affinities with the Melanesian type.
  • 2. This race hunted and exterminated the Moa, including in this native word all the different species of the Dinornithidœ.
  • 3. Banks' Peninsula was at that time either an island, or if already a Peninsula, the driftsands now fringing the sea shores north of the Peninsula, were in some localities several miles narrower than they are at present.
  • 4. The quaternary population did not possess a domesticated dog.
  • 5. A species of feral dog was contemporaneous with the Moahunters, and was killed and eaten by them. No gnawed bones of any kind were ever found in the kitchen middens.
  • 6. The total absence of any bones of Ocydromus Australis (Weka) in the kitchen middens is very striking.
  • 7. The Moa-hunters used both polished and chipped stone implements.
  • 8. They cooked their food in the same manner as the Maoris of the present day do.
  • 9. They were not cannibals.
  • 10. They did not possess implements of greenstone (Nephrite).
  • 11. There are some native traditions, although of a mythical character, that one or several races inhabited this island before the arrival of the first immigrants from Hawaiki, if such an immigration is admitted.
  • 12. A considerable period of time elapsed, as evidenced by an examination of the deposits in the Moa-bone Point Cave, and in some other localities, before the shellfish-eating population appeared on the scene.
  • 13. The kitchen middens of the Shellfish-eaters following a line nearly parallel to the present coast line are also ascribed to have been formed by a somewhat mythical people.

It will thus be seen, that my former views, published in 1871, when these important ethnological questions were first critically examined by me from a geological point of view, have with one exception been fully confirmed by further more extended researches. This exception is the occurrence in Moa-hunter kitchen middens of polished stone page break page 431implements, together with chipped ones, a fact proved beyond a doubt, during my excavations in the Moa-bone Point Cave. However, this does not lessen in any way the proofs of their age, because as previously pointed out, well finished polished stone implements have been found at the West Coast, in beds, the great age of which cannot be doubted.