Art. II.—Researches and Excavations carried on in and near the Moa-bone Point Cave, Sumner Road, in the Year 1872.
Plates I. and II.
[Read before the Philosophical Institute of Canterbury, 15th September, 1874.]
In the spring of the year 1872, Mr. Edward Jollie suggested to me that the Moa-bone Point Cave, near Sumner, if properly examined, would doubtless yield important and interesting results. My friend thought that by making there extensive and careful excavations, the question as to the period of the extinction of the Moa would be, if not entirely solved, at least considerably advanced, and that even the ground near the entrance of the cave, many acres in extent, if properly investigated, would offer additional evidence for the elucidation of the subject. On my remark that no funds for such an undertaking were at my disposal, Mr. Jollie headed at once a subscription list for the purpose, followed by a number of gentlemen who took an interest in the matter, and which, assisted by a grant from the Philosophical Institute of Canterbury, soon placed the greater portion of the necessary funds in my hands.
After having obtained the permission from Mr. Alfred Claypon Watson, Sumner Road, on whose property the Sumner cave is situated, I began the work of excavation on Monday, 23rd September, and ended on Saturday, 9th November, 1872, the same having thus been accomplished in seven weeks, during which time I occupied always two labourers working under my directions.
I may be allowed to present here my warmest thanks on behalf of the Canterbury Museum to the subscribers of the funds, of which the details of expenditure will be found in Appendix A, and to Mr. Watson, the owner of the soil, for his permission to undertake the work.
I wish also to apologise to them that I have not been able before to-day to lay the results of these excavations and researches before them. However, I must plead, in extenuation, that the bulk of this paper was written more than a year ago, but that I was then compelled, from want of room in the Museum, to repack the extensive collections made during these excavations, before I found the time to examine them thoroughly, and describe them in detail; and only in the last few months I have managed to make the necessary space in one of the work rooms for doing so.
Before entering into a description of the results achieved, I think it will be expedient to offer a few general observations on the geological features of the
cave and of the surrounding country, as in the summing up it will be necessary for me to refer to them in elucidation of some of the points at issue.
Banks Peninsular, an extinct volcanic system of large dimensions, standing as an island, in post-pliocene times, in the sea, shows by the configuration of its base that an oscillation averaging about 20 feet in vertical height has taken place, the country being depressed and afterwards raised to about the same altitude again. This line is well visible travelling round Banks Peninsula to its western termination, where, when we reach that altitude above the sea level, the signs of a former submersion disappear below the newer fluvia-tile and lacustrine deposits.
During and after the small submergence of its base, this portion of Banks Peninsula was of course subjected to the fury of the waves, when in favourable localities caves were formed, either by the removal of loose material (tufas) between two harder lava streams, or by the enlargement of pre-existing hollows, such as are found as air bubbles, often of gigantic size, in lava streams running generally parallel to the direction of their flow.
In this instance there is no doubt that the Moa-bone Point Cave is a pre-existing hollow in a doleritic lava stream, which has been enlarged by the enormous power of the dashing waves of the ocean beating here at one time furiously against the northern foot of the Peninsula.
In previous publications (amongst others, “Report on the Formation of the Canterbury Plains, 1864,” page 22, et seq.) I have shewn 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; one to unite the northern, or Waimakariri-Ashley deposits, with the northern slopes; another to connect the southern or Rakaia-Ashburton beds of the same nature with the southern slopes of Banks Peninsula, behind which a huge 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, in going towards Cashmere, the residence of Sir Cracroft Wilson, 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 neighbourhood
of Kaiapoi, where they are comparatively narrow, along the eastern boundary of Christchurch to the northern foot of the Peninsula, gradually diverging more and more.
In my former paper, entitled “Moas and Moa Hunters” (“Transactions of the New Zealand Institute,” vol. iv., page 89), I have already alluded to the fact that the ovens of the moa hunters were confined to the inner lines of these dunes, and a further close examination of the district between Christchurch and New Brighton has confirmed fully my former more local observations. Thus it is evident that when the former inhabitants of this part of New Zealand existed 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 Heathcote, 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.
There are some Maori ovens and kitchen middens on the northern side of the Heathcote estuary, but they invariably contain only shell-beds.
Position of the Cave.
When the cavity now called the Moa-bone Point Cave was enlarged by the waves of the sea, the estuary of the Heathcote-Avon in its present form was not yet in existence. Close to this cavity, 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 headland, 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 12 to 15 feet lower than at present, the upper line of boulders being about 16 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 huge 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 5 feet above the present high-water mark, with a small terraced space behind it. Since then other deposits, formed in the A von-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 I.), I have given the necessary details in illustration of these points.
Before giving a description of the cave as I found it before beginning my labours I may observe that the same was well known from the very beginning of the Canterbury settlement. It was even inhabited by some of the earliest settlers, and for some time afterwards afforded shelter to lime-burners, fisher-men, and road parties, of whom, as will be seen in the sequel, ample traces were left behind.
The entrance of the cave, which is 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 5 feet lower, or 13.64 feet above high water, taking the level of the surface for our line.
An opening, which is about 30 feet broad by 8 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, 3 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.
My best thanks are due to Mr. T. Roberts, the present engineer of the Gladstone and Timaru Board of Works, who, at my request, has taken the necessary levels and surveyed the cave, the result of his labours being attached to this report.
Contents of Cave.
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.
So, proceeding with two labourers to the cave, I instructed them to dig two trenches, crossing each other at right angles, in the centre of the cave,
till they reached what they considered the lowest part of the deposits due to human agency. On 29th September, when arriving early in the morning, the greater portion of that work had been accomplished, the workmen having reached a bed of agglomerate, which they considered the bottom of the cave, for our purpose, or at least reaching to the earliest beginning of human occupancy.
Digging, by my direction, through this agglomerate for a considerable distance down into the sands below it without any proof of human presence being obtained, I also reluctantly, at least for the present, gave up any further work below it.
Sections Nos. 1 and 2 (PI. I.) give the details of the excavations then performed. At the centre of the cave, where the two trenches crossed, I noted the following sequence:—
|1. Shell beds, consisting of the remains of the following species, now still inhabiting the estuary:— Chione stutchburyi (cockle) huai or pipi; Mesodesma chemnitzii, pipi; Amphibola avellana (periwinkle) hetikutiku; Mytilus smaragdinus (mussel), kuku||1||10|
|2. Ash bed with some pieces of flax, cabbage tree leaves, charred wood, etc.||0||8|
|3. Bed consisting of shells, often very much decomposed, the same species as No. 1||1||2|
|4. Ash and dirt bed, with a few pieces of Moa bones||0||9|
|5. Agglomeratic beds, consisting of pieces of rocks fallen from the roof||0||6|
|This latter deposit rested upon||4||11|
|6. Marine sands, in which I had dug down 3 feet without results.|
Between 3 and 4 a sharp line of demarcation was clearly visible, which, as the continuation of the excavations showed, was of great importance.
European beds do not appear as occurring on the surface at this point, as they had been previously cleared away by the workmen.
Near the entrance of the cave the following beds were passed in the longitudinal trench (see PI. I., sec. 1).
|1. Beds of European occupation, cow-dung, tins, pieces of bottles, etc.||0||9|
|2. Shell beds||2||3|
|3. Ash beds||0||5|
|4. Shell beds||1||4|
|5. Ash beds, chips of wood, tussocks||0||6|
|6. Shell beds, often very much decomposed, with small chips of timber, and thin beds of ashes between them, about||3||0|
|(Lowest portion of No. 6 not reached.)||8||3|
Owing to the depth of the trench at this spot the same was not continued. The spot where I noted this section was about 10 feet from the entrance of the cave. At the point where it reached the large rock, lying nearly across the entrance of the cave, the sequence was as follows:—
|1. Beds of European origin||0||7|
|2. Shell beds||2||1|
|3. Ash beds||0||6|
|4. Shell beds||1||4|
|5. Ash beds||0||9|
|6. Drift sands||1||0|
|7. Ash and dirt bed (lower series)||0||7|
The shells in the beds were exactly of the same description as those given in the foregoing section at the junction of both trenches in the centre of the main cave. The sequence of the beds and this identity of species proved 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; this accounts for the greater thickness of the beds in its immediate neighbourhood, which, as will be observed, gradually thin out as we advance towards the termination of the first cave.
Advancing to a consideration of the section exhibited in the cross trench, we find that it passes through the following beds on A—it's eastern side, (Pl. I., sec. 2):—
|1. European beds, consisting of wheaten straw, bones of butcher's meat, shells, match-boxes, horse dung||2||1|
|(Here was evidently a favourite spot for the cave dwellers of European origin.)|
|2. Ash bed, tussocks (Maori)||0||4|
|3. Shell beds, similar to those described previously||0||8|
|4. Ash and dirt beds||0||5|
|5. Agglomeratic beds||0||7|
Below 5, the marine sands were examined for about three feet down.
|1. European beds, mostly cattle-dung||0||1|
|2. Shell beds, like No. 3 in previous enumeration||1||1|
|3. Ashes, tussocks, etc.||0||10|
|4. Shell beds, often much decomposed||0||9|
|5. Ash bed||0||4|
|6. Ditto, mixed with shells||0||9|
|7. Dirt and ash bed||0||3|
|8. Agglomeratic bed||0||5|
Marine sands proved to exist for about 3 feet below No. 8.
Beside the shells, of which the bivalves were with very few exceptions found only in single valves, pieces of wood (partly charred), portions of wooden implements of Maori manufacture, plaitings, made of Phormium tenax, and pieces of two broken polished stone implements, were collected, whilst close to the bottom of the trench a few Moa bones were obtained, amongst which several species were represented.
On the top of the dirt bed immediately above the agglomerate a small piece of a tibia of Meionornis casuarinus, bleached and much decomposed was observed by me, which had been lying close to a well-preserved seal bone, possessing the light brown colour the bones generally exhibited when exhumed, thus suggesting that the Moa bone must have been brought into the cave from the oxitside after having become bleached and partly decomposed.
In order to test more fully the general character of the beds above the agglomerate, I gave directions to the labourers to work backwards from the cross trench, examining first the south-west corner of the cave, once more cautioning them to use the utmost care, and not to hurry over the examination.
With this work we continued until 3rd October, when, after having looked carefully over the specimens obtained, I could not divest myself of the conviction that in and below the agglomeratic beds remains proving human occupation must be found.
Amongst the objects obtained during the last few days, the workmen having turned over deposits covering an area about 20 feet by 30 feet wide, and advancing in a south-west direction, were some Moa bones, the leg bones usually broken as for the extraction of the marrow, others of them calcined, and all of them occurring only in the lowest bed.
The over-lying shell beds, as I shall call them in future, consisted principally of the usual remnants of shells, together with some seal bones belonging
to fur seal and sea leopard, portions of the Maori dog, all evidently from their kitchen, middens; bones of fish, without exception, belonging to Oligorus gigas, the hapuku; also, bones of small birds, of which the enumeration will be found in the lists attached to this memoir; of the latter, those of Graculus punctatus, the spotted shag, were the most numerous.
Works of human industry were not wanting, as we obtained pieces of timber evidently worked and planed down by polished stone implements, and upon one of which a coating of red colour was still visible. Amongst the other objects made of wood hitherto exhumed were—
Several pieces of “toa,” a thin and long wooden spear made of tawa (Nesodaphne tawa), a tree which grows only in the northern part of the Northern Island. This spear is used by the Maoris for shooting birds. For this purpose, they form, as it were, a short tube around it with the one hand, through which, after taking proper aim, they jerk the thin spear up suddenly with the other.
A patuaruhe, or fernroot beater, made of maire (Santalum cunninghamii), another strictly Northern Island tree.
The greatest portion of a whakakai, a wooden dish made of pukatea (Atherosperma novœ-zealandiœ), used for placing fat birds in so as not to lose the oil, or for the preparation of the juice of the tupakihi (Coriaria ruscifolia).
Several large pawa shells (Haliotis iris), in which the holes near the exterior border are filled with the fibres of flax or ti leaves, thus forming a vessel for the preservation of oil and other liquids.
A fishhook (matoa), used for catching hapuku, made from the wood of the kaikaiatua (Rhabdothamnus solandri) another Northern Island tree.
A long slender switch, of which part was broken off and having at the other side a notch for tying. This is called a tokai made of aka, one of the Metrosideros or rata species. It is used to keep the entrance of a fishing net open.
Another piece was recognised as a takaorekaka—a parrot perch made of pukatea.
Several pieces belonging to a canoe, such as the puru (two specimens), made of manuka (Leptospermum scoparium), used to stop the holes in a large canoe, for letting the water out; and a square piece of wood, made of totara (Podocarpus totara), called tahatikiwhaka, used to fasten the sides of a canoe.
Also, portions of a matiha, or fighting spear, made of manuka, and several other wooden implements. *
[Footnote] * I owe a great deal of this information to Hone Taahu and Tamati Ngakahu, two skilful Maori artificers of the Ngatiporou tribe, Poverty Bay, Northern Island, who, for some months past, have been occupied at the Canterbury Museum with the necessary preparations for the erection of a Maori house, carved and painted in the original style of ancient Maori art, now fast dying out. As they come from a part of New Zealand where the ancient native customs have been retained longest, their information may be considered very reliable.
However, besides the few pieces of Moa bones which might accidentally have been brought into the cave from the outside, there was nothing which could prove that there had been a regular occupation by the Moa hunters.
I therefore set the labourers to work to go through the agglomeratic bed once more, and I was delighted to find, very soon, that this time my expectations were not doomed to disappointment.
After having passed through that bed, which I found to be here 6 inches thick, another ash bed of a thickness of 3 inches was reached, in which I obtained several Moa bones, some of them calcined, others in a splendid state of preservation, belonging to Euryapteryx rheides and Meionornis didiformis, as well as some pieces of charred wood.
Proceeding with the utmost care, several large stones were reached covered with several inches of sand, some of them blackened or split by the action of fire, and placed in such a position as to show that evidently an oven had here been excavated in the sands, these stones, like the remains of the meal taken here, having probably been trampled repeatedly over, and before the ash and dirt beds had been deposited above them.
In digging round this spot I obtained the upper mandible of Aptonis defossor in a fine state of preservation, and a quantity of Moa bones, also two wooden sticks made of pukatea (Atherosperma novœ-zealandiœ) for producing fire. This simple apparatus, the only one found in the cave, has the peculiarity that fire, instead of being obtained by friction lengthwise, was procured by giving the upper stick a turning motion.
However, I may add that this was not the only mode by which the Moa hunting population obtained fire, as in the same lower beds firesticks of the other kind were also found, resembling, in this respect, those belonging to the upper or mollusk eating population, which are used at the present time by the Maoris, and are called kauwahi by them.
About 4 feet from this oven we came across some large pieces of egg-shells, of which many had still the lining membrane attached, proving, by their form of curvature, that they were portions of a Dinornis egg of very large size.
Towards the western side of the cave, partly buried in the sands, partly in the ash-bed below the agglomerate, a well preserved skull of a fur seal, probably Arctocephalus lobatus, was obtained.
Having been so far successful, I had the sea sands examined over a considerable space, and to a depth of seven feet, when water was reached. Since then I have been boring near the same spot, and found that the sea sands continued for another 5 feet before the rock on the bottom of the cave was reached, thus showing that there is here a total thickness of 12 feet of marine sands in the cave.
The following shells were obtained in these sands, without doubt brought with them into the cave by the waves of the sea, viz.:—Mactra discors, M. donaciformis, Mesodesma cuneata, Artemis subrosea, Turritella rosea, and fragments of some others, but no estuary shells.
Section No. 3 (Pl. II.) gives the details of this important point. On the surface we found:—
|1. European deposits, dung of cows, goats, etc., wheaten. straw, ashes||0||6|
|2. Shell bed (Maori)||0||9|
|3. Tussock and ash beds||0||4|
|4. Shell beds||1||4|
|5. Ash beds||0||2|
|6. Ditto, mixed greatly with shells, often very much decomposed||0||10|
|7. Ash and dirt beds (lower series)||0||2|
|8. Agglomeratic bed||0||6|
|9. Ash bed||0||3|
|10. Marine sands to water||7||0|
Amongst the shell beds, blocks of rocks, often of large size, were met with, evidently fallen down from the roof, showing that since the formation of the agglomerate bed the cave continued to be still insecure.
There was thus conclusive evidence of the Moa-hunters having used the cave occasionally as a cooking place; whilst the absence of any shells proved, as I shall also show, when speaking of the numerous Moa ovens amongst the small hillocks of drift sand near the entrance of the cave, that the population who exterminated our huge birds did not look with a favourable eye upon the food, used almost exclusively by their successors, supposing that they could have easily collected it.
However, I may here observe, that near the oven in question, a few valves of our common fresh water mussel (Unio aucklandicus) were obtained, which must have been brought by the Moa-hunters into the cave.
For the next few days we continued to excavate towards the end of the main cave, where, near the entrance to the small middle chamber the marine sands sometimes reached the surface, European, Maori, and Moa-hunter remains being here occasionally mixed with each other, trodden down into the sands by men or cattle. In a few more protected spots, ash and dirt beds, to a thickness of several inches, remained undisturbed above these sands.
Advancing from the entrance to the middle chamber towards the big fragment of rock B, fallen from the roof, which is 6 feet broad by 12 feet long and
10 feet high, and forms a remarkable feature in the cave, the artificial deposits soon became more considerable and full of interest. Close to the rock, on its southern side, they reached a thickness of nearly 3 feet, consisting of—
|1. Beds of European occupation (cow-dung)||0||4|
|2. Shell beds (Maori)||0||10|
|3. Dirt and ash beds, with tussocks and flax||0||4|
|4. Shell beds||0||9|
|5. Lower series, dirt and ash bed||0||5|
|6. Agglomerate bed, altering gradually again to ash bed upon the sands||0||3|
|7. Marine sands as far as excavated||3||0|
In the lowest beds, partly imbedded in the sands, we obtained a great number of Moa bones, belonging at least to six specimens, of which four were well represented, namely, three specimens of Meionornis didiformis, of which two were immature birds, and one specimen of Euryapteryx rheides, also not yet full-grown.
Advancing towards the huge rock previously alluded to, I observed that one portion of its unequal under surface stood above the sands, thus leaving a space below, from which we took a number of things, amongst them a fine and perfect pelvis, and several leg bones of an immature specimen of Meionornis didiformis, some bones of the Maori dog, like the former, partly calcined and broken, having been used for food, as well as portions of skeletons of shags, penguins, and some other birds.
When examining the shell beds we had repeatedly found amongst them match boxes, small bones of sheep, and other remnants of European life, evidently brought into their present position by means of numerous rat holes passing through these upper beds; also near to this inconsiderable spot not filled up by the sea sands a few small European remains had found their way, which, if the mode of their transport had not been clear to me might have been a great puzzle.
Section No. 4 (Pl. II.) gives the details of the arrangement of the beds abutting against the rock. Also a considerable amount of drift timber was lying here, without doubt mostly brought so far back by human agency; a great deal of it being charred, or partly burnt; and all the evidence before me went to show that this spot, hidden as it was from the entrance by the huge rock in front of it, had been a favourite camping and eating ground, both of the Moa-hunting and afterwards of the shell fish-eating populations.
For another week I continued to occupy the workmen in the south-castern
portion of the cave, but gradually advancing towards the western side of the cross trench of which section No. 2 (Pl. I.) gives the details.
Before reaching the trench at the spot marked C in the ground plan of the cave (Pl. I.), we came across a stand having been used for the stabling of a horse, which had been dug into the shell-bed to a depth of several feet; in some spots reaching actually down to the marine sands.
This strange place for a stable was now mostly filled with horse-dung and European kitchen middens, well trampled down, and above them, with a layer of the excrements of cattle.
Altogether, in this part of the cave, the beds had been much disturbed by the cave-dwellers of European origin, so that in some instances Moa bones were actually mixed up with bones of butcher's meat, lying now together in disturbed shell beds.
When advancing towards the point where the two main branches crossed each other, the workmen observed, standing vertically in the sands, the remains of two much decomposed piles, having a diameter of about eight inches, and which apparently had been deprived of their bark by means of a smooth stone implement, before having been placed in their present position.
Evidently they had been burned to the ground before the lowest dirt bed had been deposited, their charred ends standing scarcely above the level of the marine sands.
Of these piles, the first was observed 15 feet from the eastern wall of the cave, and 6 feet behind the cross trench, the second opposite to the first on its south-western side and at a distance of 12 feet.
They were found during my absence, and the men not thinking their occurrence of sufficient interest, simply took them out—but noting their position—instead of leaving them standing until I came down. They reported that they had reached about 16 inches down into the sands.
During my presence I caused new excavations to be made round the spot where these piles were reported to have stood, but I could not get any other object except portions of one of the piles, which on examination proved to be rimu (Dacrydium cupressinum).
In the agglomeratic bed in this south-eastern portion of the cave we obtained a number of Moa bones, of which portions of a skeleton of Euryapteryx rheides were the most conspicuous. With the latter also the two rami of the lower mandible were found, but not the least portion of the skull; in fact, the absence of any but very small fragments of skulls in all kitchen middens shows that the brain of the Moa was considered a great delicacy.
Here we got again a few small pieces of obsidian and some chips and cores
of flint together with similar rough and primitive tools made of a hard and compact dolerite found in situ close to the cave.
In the lower beds also seal bones, a few phalanges from the flipper of a small whale, and bones of birds still at present inhabiting New Zealand, were collected; amongst the latter those of the spotted shag and small blue penguin were most numerous.
In the dirt and ash bed above the agglomerate, we obtained a number of bones belonging both to our extinct and living vertebrate fauna, amongst them the greater portion of the skeleton of a fur seal. In the shell beds above numerous Maori remains were found, amongst them a few fernroot beaters, made of wood, some canoe pins, flax-plaitings, all of which will be enumerated in the appendix C.
When examining first the two main trial trenches crossing each other at right angles in the centre of the cave, the absence of the agglomeratic beds was here noted by me, but I then thought that it might have been caused by the roof having—in that part of the cave—accidentally possessed a greater solidity.
In this surmise I was still more confirmed by finding that in those spots the dirt and ash bed was much thicker, lying here directly upon the sands, so that the former had a nearly uniform upper surface.
However, when continuing the excavations across the cross ditch towards the entrance of the cave, to the description of which I shall devote another portion of this memoir, we found in the longitudinal trench a third pile, and observed that in the space between these three points and another point, where, however no remains of a pile were existing, forming an oblong square 36 feet long by 12 feet wide, the agglomerate bed was entirely missing, and the inference was therefore natural that at some time a human dwelling of some kind had been standing here.
My first impression was that the cave dwellers, in order to protect themselves from the pieces of rock becoming loosened at intervals from the ceiling, had built a strong roof, resting upon four corner piles, which, after the principal fall of rocks ceased, had accidentally been burned to the ground, but on closer examination it became clear to me that the time during which the agglomeratic beds were formed was of such long duration that it is impossible to assume such a frail construction having lasted so long. Moreover, one can scarcely believe that a primitive race, and which evidently only at intervals inhabited the cave before the agglomerate bed was deposited upon the marine sands, should act with such forethought and care.
There remains only one other explanation, which I advance with some diffidence, namely, that the builder of the dwelling, whoever he may have been,
excavated not only the four holes for fixing the corner piles into the agglomerate, but actually lifted the same in the space between them; against this, however, it may be observed that if such, as we may presume, unnecessary work was performed, the agglomerate bed ought not only to end abruptly round the former dwelling, but that the removed material, having been thrown outside, the thickness of the bed in question ought to be here much more considerable.
However, from the sections made during the progress of the excavations, it does not appear that the agglomerate bed was generally thicker outside this oblong square, or that it ended abruptly. On the contrary, the same was found to thin out generally close to the intersecting lines, the ash and dirt bed becoming gradually thicker. The same was the case in some of the other portions of the cave, where the agglomerate was also occasionally missing, and I can only regret that when that portion of the cave towards the entrance was excavated, where a great thickness of the overlying shell beds had first to be removed, my official work at the Museum would not allow me to go so often to the ground as I should have wished. This question has, therefore, to remain an open one.
Having reached (Saturday, 19th October) the cross trench on the eastern side of the cave, and thus examined the whole south-eastern portion, I began to continue with the excavations on the south-western side towards the termination of the cave in that direction.
Hitherto we had not been successful either in obtaining human bones, or Maori objects of any value, which I hoped might have been placed in a cache similar to those found in carefully excavated hiding places in the Moa-hunter (and afterward Maori) encampments at the Rakaia. However, that evening we came a few feet from the south-western wall upon disturbed ground, and carefully taking off the material, the skeleton of a Maori was reached, who as section No. 5 (Pl. II.) shows, had been buried a considerable time.
The aborigines who had placed the body there, had dug through the shell-bed for about 8 inches, then 2 inches through the dirt and ash bed belonging to the older series, and 4 inches through the agglomeratic deposit.
They had then excavated the marine sands for several feet, and had placed the corpse in a sitting position in the grave thus formed, tied together with flax, the face towards the wall of rock, covering it with part of the sands thrown out, the rest being thrown with the shells excavated around the spot.
However, it was clearly visible that the ground had afterwards been levelled, as it were, under the feet of human occupants, and about six inches of newly-formed shell-bed, being continuous and level with the more distant
layer of the same nature, had been deposited over the grave, the whole being capped with 3 inches of European accumulations.
It is thus evident that the burial had not only taken place long before the Europeans came to the cave, but that the Maoris continued for a considerable number of years to frequent the cave, and to take their meals there after that event had happened.
This fact naturally leads me to conclude that the cave was not constantly, or even regularly, visited by the Maoris; and that its occupation occurred only occasionally, and by different tribes of natives; because, judging from the character and superstitions of the aborigines of the present time, we can safely say that, after the burial of one of them, the cave would have become strictly tapu to all those having any knowledge of the fact, at least as far as the taking of meals is concerned.
This opinion is also shared by the Rev. J. Buller, whom I consulted on this question, and who, having been living for many years amongst them in the Northern Island, is perfectly acquainted with all their customs.
From this fact alone, and the conclusions therefrom, if admitted, we are obliged to assume that considerable space of time was necessary to form this shell bed alone.
The body, as before observed, had been tied together with flax, the knees being placed below the chin. Owing to the antiseptic properties of the sand, there were still some ligaments and skin upon the bones, and some hair upon the skull.
The skeleton which has been articulated by Mr. F. Fuller, and now stands in the Canterbury Museum, belongs to a man of a height of nearly 6 feet, past manhood. The ulna of the left arm is broken, and was only partially healed when the man died.
We are so accustomed to observe natives possessing a fine set of teeth that it is rather striking to see that this aborigine must have suffered very much from bad and distorted teeth.
Thus we find that most of the premolals and molars are missing in the lower jaw, the alveoles being already quite absorbed. In the upper jaw, the first molar on the right side, and the first molar on the left are distorted inwards, their anterior surfaces being adherent to the alveoles, which are developed into a slight bony outgrowth. Owing to a very remarkable distortion of the left molar, mastication was performed with its outer surface, which was worn.
Examining the two smaller caves, we obtained here some Moa and other birds' bones lying close to the surface of the sands, mixed up with ashes and other signs of human occupation, so that it is evident that casual visitors
penetrated to these inner caves, probably to hide themselves from their enemies, and cooked their meals, or at least lighted fires.
As these two smaller caves for years past have been visited by Europeans, a number of Moa bones have, as I understand, been carried away, having been observed amongst the sands.
Having reached the end of the main cave, a more tedious piece of work was now before us, because before being able to reach the dirt and agglomerate beds in this northern portion of the cave, we were obliged to remove a considerable mass of shell deposits, which, as we approached the entrance of the cave, became gradually thicker till they reached a thickness of 8 feet.
I have already before stated that the agglomerate bed was missing where the supposed hut or enclosure had once been standing, and that the ash and dirt bed continued without interruption to cover here the marine sands.
Over this area I observed the dirt bed to possess a much greater thickness than in other localities where the agglomerate was present, attaining generally a thickness of 8 to 9 inches between the four piles, and thus showing that by a more extended deposition of ashes and kitchen middens, the general level of the floor of the cave had here been maintained.
We obtained here, mostly embedded in the marine sands and only partly entering the dirt bed, the bones of the left leg belonging to a large specimen of Euryapteryx gravis. The tibia and femur had been broken in the usual manner for the extraction of the marrow, whilst the metatarsus was entire, and very much calcined at its lower (distal) extremity. The fibula was found to be also broken in several places, as would happen by fracturing the tibia, with the former bone still attached. Some phalanges and a great number of small pieces of the two broken leg-bones were lying also close by.
As none of the bones were calcined, with the exception of the lower portion of the metatarsus, it appears that this part, not possessing any flesh, was not protected from the fire so carefully as the other portions had been.
If this surmise be correct, we have here a case of broiling on a large scale before us.
Advancing towards the entrance of the cave, we obtained, occasionally in the marine sands, agglomerate and dirt beds, rough stone implements, mostly mere chips of dolerite, obtainable close to the cave, and with very few exceptions, in no way to be compared with the artistically chipped flint implements from the Rakaia encampment; but these shapeless implements were now sometimes replaced by better formed tools. Some pieces of obsidian were found with them, embedded in the agglomerate, having, in two instances, the form of spear heads.
From the great number of Moa bones belonging to so many specimens and
species found over that small area it became evident that this spot had been a favourite camping ground for the Moa-hunting frequenters of the cave, because in the small space between the northern side of the supposed enclosure or hut, and the entrance of the cave, we obtained the following bones:—
Of Dinornis robustus.
Right femur, portions of tibia and metatarsus (broken for the extraction of the marrow) portion of pelvis, two ribs, four cervical and one dorsal vertebræ.
Of Palapteryx crassus.
Portions of two full-grown birds, femora, ribs and several vertebræ.
Of Euryapteryx gravis.
Portions of right femur, of pelvis, two ribs, nine phalanges, one dorsal, three cervical vertebræ, all the bones of this specimen being doubtless derived from the same individual to which the bones of the left leg belonged, previously described, and which were found towards the centre of the cave.
Of Euryapteryx rheides.
Numerous bones, belonging to at least two adults, and one young specimen, the leg bones broken in the usual manner, portions of pelvis, sternum and skull, vertebræ, phalanges, and ribs in considerable number.
Of Aptornis otidiformis.
Lower portion of left tibia and femur, the marrow having evidently been extracted.
Besides these remains, belonging to our extinct birds, a great number of bones of smaller species of our recent Avifauna were collected, of which Graculus punctatus (the spotted shag) and Eudyptula undina (the small blue penguin) were the most numerous. Besides them, other species of the Graculus family, the grey duck (Anas superciliosa) and gulls and terns were well represented. From the dirt beds a considerable number of feathers were collected, mostly belonging to the spotted shag, but none which could be identified as Moa feathers.
In the upper, or shell beds, as previously stated, the bones of the spotted shag were also of frequent occurrence, and besides those previously enumerated, we found also a few belonging to the white crane, the nelly, and the New Zealand harrier. The feathers collected in these upper beds were mostly all belonging either to the spotted shag or to the kakapo (Stringops habroptilus).
It may not be here out of place to remind you that amongst the kitchen middens of the Rakaia encampment, belonging to hundreds of specimens, only a few bones of Dinornis ingens were found, the more gigantic species being thus unrepresented.
It is therefore interesting to observe that the Moa-hunters were also chasing the latter, as proved by the remains of Dinornis robustus in the kitchen middens at the mouth of the cave.
In the sands at the western corner near its entrance, and where, as before observed, the agglomeratic deposit was missing, we found arranged in the sands another oven of considerable dimensions, used for a time by the Moa hunters, but afterwards abandoned, as it was filled and covered over with numerous Moa bones and their fragments, as well as with a considerable thickness of dirt and ashes.
The absence of ovens for cooking purposes, with the exception of the one previously alluded to occurring in the marine sands in the south-western portion, and of the second at the western entrance of the cave, together with a third—of which I shall speak presently—is a striking feature from which we can only conclude that the Moa-hunters cooked their food generally outside, and only occasionally eat it inside the cave, whilst the thick ash bed suggests that generally fires had been lighted, round which they sat or camped.
The third oven—several feet in diameter—was found about 10 feet from the entrance towards its middle part, having been prepared immediately after the agglomeratic bed had been deposited.
The Moa-hunters had broken through that latter deposit, and arranged the stones of their oven, taken mostly from the removed agglomerate in the marine sands thus laid open.
After having been used probably in a few instances only, it had become filled up with some of the agglomerate, previously disturbed for its excavation, not used for cooking purposes, with pieces of Moa bones and chips of timber (totara). Some of the latter were standing vertical, or at least at a high angle, whilst the chips amongst the dirt beds were found to be generally in a horizontal position.
This oven, with the kitchen middens filling it, was found to be covered by the never missing ash and dirt bed, the latter being continuous with the same deposit all round.
It is thus evident that this oven was excavated, used and filled again with the remnants of the meals, and of the usual occupations of the Moa-hunters before the ash and dirt bed was formed above the agglomerate. On the bottom of this oven a polished chisel of dark chert was discovered, 4.8 inches long by 1.51 inches broad, which in its general form resembles those which are doubtless of Maori manufacture, and which probably had been lost accidentally by being covered over. I obtained the information concerning this oven from the workmen, as I was unfortunately absent when the discovery was made,
but I think it can be accepted as reliable, as I cross-examined both men, and found their account to agree in every particular.
However, to strengthen this important point, on the 31st October, during my presence, the men picked up a portion of another polished adze, which fell out of the face of the agglomerate bed, just broken into, and when examining that face carefully I had the satisfaction to find the spot whence it had fallen out, so that there is no doubt but that it had been embedded in that agglomerate.
On the other hand, in the dirt bed near the entrance of the cave, generally close to the agglomerate, or when missing, sometimes in contact with the marine sands, several broken polished stone implements were excavated, together with pieces of gritty sandstone, some of which had been grooved during the process of sharpening.
As these fragments were found amongst the undisturbed kitchen middens of the Moa-hunters, there is not the least doubt that the same were possessed of polished stone implements, as well as of chipped flint tools, probably employing the former for the building of their dwellings, or manufacture of their canoes and wooden implements, whilst the latter were probably used for the chase or for cutting up and preparing their huge game for the oven and their meals. And as I shall show further on in the description of the numerous Moa ovens outside the cave, that similar polished stone implements were obtained in contact with Moa bones in undisturbed positions, I have to modify my former views in assuming that the Moa-hunters did not possess polished stone implements. Thus the excavations in and near the Moa-bone Point Cave fully confirm the observations concerning this point made, and published by Messrs. Mantell and Murison some years ago.
My former opinion was based upon the careful examination of hundreds of Moa-cooking ovens in the Rakaia encampment, where I obtained great quantities of chipped stone implements, some of them remarkably well shaped, amongst the kitchen middens of the Moa-hunters, but in the same deposits never any polished ones, and as the latter were mostly found in deep cćches, and the locality had been, according to Maori tradition, a favourite encampment of theirs, it was natural to be led to the conclusion that the few polished stone implements turned up here and there by the plough were like the câches of later (Maori) origin.
Section No. 6 gives the details of the beds, with the two ovens near the entrance of the cave.
Having determined that the beds were perfectly undisturbed, with the exception of the few cases already alluded to, it was of great importance to ascertain if, besides the stone implements found amongst the kitchen middens
of the Moa-hunters, no other objects of human workmanship were associated with them, in order to gain some more insight into the daily life of that primitive people.
However, if we consider that the cave was only occasionally frequented, we could not expect to find many objects of that nature, unless a fortunate accident had preserved to us some of their more valued utensils and ornaments; and although I was rather disappointed in that respect, the few objects found proved sufficiently that the Moa-hunters made their domestic tools neatly, as is generally the custom of primitive races.
In the dirt bed above the agglomerate in the anterior portion of the cave we obtained a needle 4.25 inches long by 0.20 inches broad, neatly finished, made of the humerus of a nelly (Ossifraga gigantea), and bodkin made of the distal portion of the tibia of the same bird, doubtless used for making holes through which the needle was passed afterwards; also, the canine tooth of a dog, with a hole bored through it at its base, worn without doubt as an ornament.
Amongst the pieces of wood collected from the lower beds, there is an apparatus for kindling fire, made of Carpodetus serratus (komaku), the fire to be obtained by rubbing the stick lengthwise on the other flat piece, several fragments of worked timber, firesticks, portions of spears and of canoes, the whole being so soft when excavated that it could easily be cut by the finger nail.
In appendix B a list of all the objects found is given, so that I need not particularise any other here.
The curious fact first observed at the Rakaia' encampment that none of the bones of the kitchen middens were gnawed by dogs, was also recognised in and near the cave, the smallest bones, without exception, being quite intact, except where cut or broken by human hands.
On the other hand, in the upper or shell beds, many of the bones appeared to have been gnawed by rats and a few by dogs.
In any case, the hypothesis first put forward in my paper on the Rakaia encampment, that the Moa-hunters chased the dog for food, without having it domesticated, certainly gains by these new observations in probability.
Amongst the smaller birds enumerated in the appendix, of which none are extinct, the presence of the bones of the kakapo (Stringops habroptilus) and of the large kiwi or roa (Apteryx australis) proves that these birds inhabited the peninsula and its neighbourhood from where they have now disappeared a long time. The only fish bones obtained in the lower beds belonged, mostly all, to the hapuku (Oligorus gigas).
The upper or shell beds also did not contain any objects of value, which
had belonged to the Maoris, although, as appendix C will show, a great number of things were found, either broken, become useless and thrown away, or accidentally dropped.
There were only a few pieces of broken polished stone inplements and a small piece of nephrite (greenstone) amongst them.
Concerning the existence of human bones in the lower beds, I may here add that portions of the right ramus of a lower jaw were found in the western side in the marine sands, about 6 inches below their surface, which might have been carried in by the surf, as near it the greater portion of the skeleton of a fur seal was excavated, which was doubtless brought in in the same manner. This lower jaw had belonged to a not quite full-grown man, the last molar just making its appearance; there was not the least sign of such bones either in the agglomerate nor in the ash and dirt bed above it, thus confirming similar observations made at the Rakaia encampment.
Amongst the bones collected in the Maori or shell beds were two pelvic bones belonging to a full grown male, and the ninth dorsal vertebra, not quite mature; all three were entire, and it is difficult to say how they may have been brought into the cave, but as there was through the whole thickness of these beds not the least sign of any broken human bone, it appears obvious that during all the time the shell-fish eaters were in occupation of the ground they were either not cannibals, or had such a peaceful existence, not being at war with neighbouring tribes, that they had no opportunity to indulge in that horrible practice.
However, looking at the long lapse of time during which the shell-fish eaters were in possession of the ground, and the insecurity of life to which savage tribes are exposed, I am inclined to believe that had they been cannibals, when the lower portions of the shell beds were formed, there would certainly be some evidence of it.
My friend, the Rev. J. W. Stack, at my request, has made inquiries amongst the older natives in Kaiapoi, and has been informed by them that the cave in question had been a common resort of their fishing parties some thirty years ago, so that some of the uppermost beds might have been formed by their refuse; but as cannibalism has been practised at least for several centuries in New Zealand, the absence of human bones in the shell beds certainly proves that they are of considerable antiquity, which is still more strengthened by the curious fact that amongst the hundreds of bones belonging to small birds, not a vestige of the weka (Ocydromus australis) has been met with, the same being the fact with the lower or Moa-hunter beds, a feature they have in common with those occurring in the Rakaia encampment.
As far back as the traditions of the Maoris go, allusion is made in their
songs to the weka, and if we would examine newer refuse heaps of the natives, either on the coast or inland, I am sure that we could obtain ample evidence from the presence of the remains of this bird that it constituted one of their favourite meals.
I have before observed that the line of demarcation between the surface of the dirt bed and the overlying shell beds, in which no Moa bones were found, is constant and very distinct, and goes far to prove that during a considerable lapse of time no human occupation of the cave took place.
This proposition gains in strength by the existence of a bed of drift sand, deposited between these two beds, forming a layer of a thickness of about 12 inches at the entrance of the cave and gradually thinning towards the interior.
As the cave was amply protected, not only by its position as well as by the huge rock in front, but without doubt, also by dense vegetation, sprung up when it was left undisturbed, after the Moa-hunters ceased to frequent it, the discovery of this bed of drift sand between the two formations has important bearings.
Excavations amongst the Sand Hills outside the Cave.
Before proceeding to general conclusions to be drawn from the results obtained during the excavations in the cave in question, I wish to offer a short description of my researches, of which some date as far back as 1865, made amongst the Moa-hunters and Maori kitchen middens in its immediate neighbourhood.
When speaking of the position 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 Banks 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, Banks Peninsula recedes nearly a quarter of a mile to the south, the low ground being here also covered by drift sands, 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 shell-fish eaters, 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 up 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 that they have been 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 broken bones, egg-shells; etc., had been thrown a few feet from the oven, an observation made also at the Rakaia.
The following sections from that locality will, better than words can do, convey a clear insight into their principal features.
Section 7 (Pl. II.) taken about 4 chains from the entrance of the cave, and 1 chain north of the Sumner road, proves clearly that there exists a clear line of demarcation between the Moa-hunters' and shell-fish eaters' deposits.
After examining a bed on the surface, which contained the same species of shells as we obtained from the upper deposits of the cave, I had the sands below them excavated for about 2 feet, when we came upon the remains of a cooking oven, big boulders, charcoal, and near and above it a distinct layer of kitchen middens, which consisted of Moa-bones, the larger ones all broken, and some of them calcined; there were also some of smaller birds, of which those of the spotted shag (Graculus punctatus) were the most numerous; the crested penguin, the large kiwi, and the grey duck being also represented.
Besides them, bones of the dog, which appears to have been also a favourite dish of the Moa-hunter, a tympanic bone of a ziphoid whale and some seal bones were obtained.
Section 8 (Pl. II.), on the other hand, shows convincingly how in many instances the intermixture of the two series of kitchen middens has taken place. It is evident that in that locality, 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, and that the same spot had afterwards been used as a camping ground by the shell-fish 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.
In none of the clearly defined refuse deposits of the Moa-hunters were any marine shells found, but in one locality a few pieces of our fresh-water mussel (Unio aucklandicus) were discovered, probably used for domestic purposes, but, as before observed, in many instances the line between both series could not be drawn, and it appeared clear that the sands having been blown away, the kitchen middens of the older and newer occupants became not only intermixed, but even that the same boulders which were collected for their ovens by the Moa-hunters might have been used by the shell-fish eating population also.
Owing to the great extent of the area, it was utterly impossible to open up all the ovens occurring there, as this would have been beyond the means at
my command; however, sufficient ground was examined to show that the smaller species, Meionornis didiformis and Euryapteryx rheides were obtained most frequently, whilst Euryapterix gravis was also well represented.
Of Meionornis casuarinus, which was the most numerous species at the Rakaia encampment, only a few bones were observed both in the cave and on the sand hills, which suggests that in the hunting grounds, where the older occupants of that locality obtained their food, this species, so very plentiful near the Rakaia, must have been of rare occurrence.
Portions of the shells of several Moa-eggs were also collected, of which the greater part of one was lying on the surface close to the Sumner road.
The seal bones found so numerously in the older kitchen middens belong to several species, of which the larger fur seal is best represented, the small fur seal not being so frequent.
As will be gathered from the accompanying list, I obtained numerous stone implements, of which three adzes in good preservation were polished, and fragments of eleven others, together with nine pieces of gritty sandstone, used for sharpening or polishing. Of the former, one of the specimens was found immediately above the stones having formed one of the ovens, the others being scattered amongst the kitchen middens, and as this occurrence is a confirmation of the observations made in the cave, there is no doubt that the Moa-hunters used both polished and unpolished stone implements.
A number of small pieces of obsidian were also found, of which some were probably used as spear heads. Most of the rude chipped stone implements, like those collected in the cave, had been made from the basaltic rock in the neighbourhood, most of them were simply flakes without any decided form, but amongst them I observed a few manufactured for spear heads; others had evidently been chipped to be used as knives or scrapers, the rest being cores only.
Flint implements, so well represented at the Rakaia, were also not missing, but with the exception of about a dozen, which were either used as spear heads or knives, the rest were flakes or cores.
Of the remarkable green siliceous deposit (Palla) found in the Gawler's Downs, two small flakes were also amongst the specimens here collected. Two pieces of Moa-bones, partly worked, were secured, having doubtless been in preparation for the manufacture of fish-hooks, with them two ornaments made of the humerus of an albatross were found, neatly cut off to a length of about 1 inch, and resembling the heitikis used by the Maoris, in which the feathers of the tui, or small birds are inserted, and suspended from the neck. As already stated, we picked up also some tympanic bones of whales amongst the refuse heaps, so that it is evident that the use of this bone, for some purpose,
at present unknown to us, was universal amongst the Moa-hunters in this part of the country.
Judging from the great amount of kitchen middens deposited on the very small portion on the dunes examined by me, there is no doubt that the real camping ground of the Moa-hunters was outside the cave, and that they used the latter only occasionally for shelter, or for their meals, and only in a few instances for cooking purposes, thus proving that a long lapse of time was necessary for the formation of the lower beds alone. On the other hand, the observations I was able to make at the junction of the kitchen middens of the Moa-hunters and of the shell-fish eaters, demonstrates that there passed again a considerable time before the latter appeared on the scene, and as there are actually no cooking ovens in the upper or shell beds, since deposited in the cave, we can only conclude that the shells were likewise cooked outside the numerous ash-beds, tussocks, and fern-stalks, interstratified amongst the shells, suggesting that the later inhabitants lighted their fires only for warmth and light in the cave, and probably slept there.
It appeared to me important to obtain, if possible, some information from the natives whether they had any knowledge or tradition in reference to the remarkable quantity of shell heaps occurring in the inner or westerly portion of the dunes, which are found at intervals from near the mouth of the Waipaia all along the coast as far as the Waitaki, and in which I could never discover any Moa bones. I therefore requested my friend, the Rev. J. W. Stack, to inquire from the oldest Maoris of Kaiapoi what they knew about them.
He informs me that these natives attribute them generally to the Waitaha, the first immigrants who preceded the Ngatimamoe, who in their turn preceded the Ngatikuri, the present inhabitants.
Seeing that these remains are assigned to the remotest period of Maori occupation by the natives themselves, the great division existing between the lower, or Moa-hunter, and the upper, or shell beds, with such a distinct line of demarcation, goes far to prove that an enormous space of time must have elapsed since the Dinornis became extinct.
Mr. Stack justly points out the importance of this fact in his communications to me, and thus the own traditions of the natives themselves, related in an unbiassed way, are certainly a confirmation of the views I ventured to express first in 1871, in respect to this question, and quite in opposition to the then generally accepted assumptions.
Although when enumerating in the foregoing notes the results obtained during the pursuit of the excavations, I have given already my views, formed
from a consideration of the sequence of the beds of human origin, their ago and peculiarities, I think it will be useful if I offer in conclusion a short résumé of the work performed, contemplated as a whole.
The excavations have shown, that a nearly level floor of marine sands existed, resting upon the rocky bottom of the cave, these sands being 4 1/2 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 it 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 before the sea had left the cave 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 an island, and the opposite shores of the main island 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 embedded nearly twelve inches deep in the sands, unless we assume that they might have been brought into that position by the next inhabitants having walked over them, and thus having trodden them down.
The bed of ashes and dirt, which here and in a few other places underlies the agglomeratic bed, clearly proves that before the last-mentioned deposit was formed fires were 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.
I have already observed that in the marine sands we came across blocks of rock of all sizes having fallen from the roof, and possessing a more or less rounded shape, such as is exhibited by scoria, formed in its upper and lower portions during the flow of a large lava stream.
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 6 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 had been deposited, generally 3 or 4 inches in thickness, mostly consisting of refuse matter from human occupation, and of ashes, so that I adopted the name of dirt bed for the same. It was especially in some localities, as for instance near the entrance of the cave, replete with kitchen middens of the Moa-hunters. I wish, however, to point out that the fall of the rocks from the roof did not cease during its formation or even afterwards, as all the beds upwards, even those of European origin, have small lumps of such scoria, or even larger blocks, embedded in them.
I believe, therefore, that this dirt bed was forming during a more regular occupancy of the cave by the Moa-hunters; moreover, I think that the connection of the cooking places and kitchen middens of the Moa-hunters outside the cave, amongst the dunes, with the dirt bed, has been traced satisfactorily in the foregoing pages.
But now, 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 civilization, which in many respects seems not to have been inferior to that possessed by the Maoris when New Zealand was first visited by Europeans.
At the same time, if we consider the position of the kitchen middens on the dunes in the vicinity of the cave, and those which I discovered on the lines of inner dunes in the neighbourhood of Christchurch, even the most ardent defender of the groundless assertions that the Moas only became extinct some 80 or 100 years ago, must admit that at least in this portion of the island these gigantic birds were exterminated at a period when the physical features in this part of the Canterbury plains near the sea were different from what they are now, that large lagoon-like lakes have since been filled up, and sand dunes of considerable width have been added to those then existing. In one word, those changes during quarternary times have been of such magnitude that it is impossible to estimate, even approximately, the length of time necessary
for the achievement of such important alterations, worked out by the action of the sea and the rivers entering it.
And as in other portions of this island the deposits in which the kitchen middens of the Moa-hunters occur are of similar antiquity, I have no doubt that my views expressed on this subject some years ago will gain general acceptance in due time, although I know that erroneous notions to the contrary, when they have once become popular prejudices, are difficult to eradicate; especially when they are supported by one or two scientific men in New Zealand, notwithstanding that their assertions never stood the test of critical examination, and have been refuted over and over again.
That after the deposition 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. Moreover, if we consider that at least these lower shell-beds in the cave are of contemporaneous origin with those which are situated outside on the dunes to which Maori tradition assigns such a high antiquity, it is evident, judging from their situation in such a distant and well-defined position above the bed containing Moa bones, that the extinction of our gigantic birds, reasoning from this fact alone, is thrown back for a considerable space of time.
Of course it is impossible to calculate this time by even hundreds of years, but as polished stone implements have been found in New Zealand, buried in littoral beds, 15 feet below the surface in undisturbed ground, over which extensive forests are growing, containing trees of enormous size, there is no doubt that the use of polished stone implements dates far back in pre-historic times; I mean to say, to a period to which even the most obscure traditions of the aborigines do not reach.
Moreover, it has been proved by philological researches, that the Polynesian race, to which the Maoris belong, is of high antiquity, and that since their location in the Pacific Ocean, great physical changes must have taken place in this part of the earth's surface.
The similarity of the language spoken on numerous small islands situated at such considerable distances from each other, is no argument against such a hypothesis, because, under certain conditions, even without accidental or intended migrations, languages may remain nearly unchanged for a considerable space of time, I may even venture to say for thousands of years. In support of this view I wish only to refer here to the great resemblance of the Coptic with the language of the old Egyptians, as revealed to us by the translation of the hieroglyphic inscriptions on the oldest monuments of that wonderful race still standing proudly on the banks of the Nile.
If we now consider for a moment the shell-beds in the cave, we are led to the conclusion, principally judging from the absence of cooking places amongst them, and the numerous thin beds of ashes, without doubt the result of camp fires, forming distinct lines of demarcation, that the cave was only occasionally inhabited, and that for their formation alone a long period of time has also to be claimed.
The upper portion of these shell beds, immediately below the surface deposits of European origin, might be assigned to the forefathers of the Maori tribe inhabiting at present the neighbourhood, as according to their communications to the Rev. J. W. Stack, the cave had been used as shelter for their fishing parties in former times.
And thus another step towards the elucidation of the question, when the Moa became extinct has been made, and I have no doubt that future researches in similar localities will not only offer a confirmation of the views, as based upon the results of these excavations, but give us still more material towards a better knowledge of the life and manners of the primitive people who exterminated the gigantic birds once inhabiting these islands.
Expenses incurred and money received towards the excavations in and near the Moa-bone Point Cave:—
9th November, 1872.
|Mr. Edward Jollie||1||0||0|
|Mr. Samuel Bealey||1||0||0|
|Mr. H. R. Webb||1||0||0|
|Mr. J. D. Enys||1||0||0|
|Mr. W. P. Cowlishaw||1||0||0|
|Mr. William Wilson||1||0||0|
|Mr. George Hart||2||0||0|
|Mr. Charles Tripp||1||0||0|
|Mr. Marmaduke Dixon||0||10||0|
|Mr. George Packe||1||0||0|
|Mr. R. H. Rhodes||1||0||0|
|Mr. F. H. Meinetzhagen||1||0||0|
|Mr. F. J. Garrick||1||0||0|
|Dr. Julius Haast||6||0||4|
|9th November, 1872.||Cr.|
|To wages to R. Lournan (7 weeks at £2.2s.)||14||14||0|
|To wages to Alex. M'Kay (7 weeks at £2)||14||0||0|
|To expenses for tools, carriage, etc.||3||16||4|
|Christchurch, 10th November, 1872.|
List of objects found in the lower or Moa-hunter deposits of the Moa-bone Point Cave:—
a.—Remains of Mammals.
|Bones of ziphoid whales||8|
|Bonés of sea leopard, Stenorhynchus leptonyx||39|
|Bones of fur seal, Arctocephalus lobatus (?) and cinereus||332|
|Bones of small fur seal, Gypsophoca subtropicalis||27|
|Bones of dog, Canis sp.||43|
|Bones of porpoise||24|
b.—Remains of Birds.
|Bones of Dinornis robustus||13|
|Bones of Palapteryx crassus||18|
|Bones of Euryapteryx gravis||35|
|Bones of Euryapteryx rheides||94|
|Bones of Meionornis casuarinus||17|
|Bones of Meionornis didiformis||103|
|Bones of Aptornis defossor||1|
|Bones of Aptornis otidiformis||2|
|Fragments of bones of different species||51|
|Tracheal rings of Moas||37|
|Portions of eggshells of Moas (trays)||3|
|Bones of Graculus punctatus, spotted shag||107|
|Bones of Eudyptula undina, small blue penguin||67|
|Bones of Anas superciliosa, grey duck||17|
|Bones of Graculus carbo, black shag||18|
|Bones of Graculus varius, pied shag||15|
|Bones of Graculus brevirostris, white-throated shag||12|
|Bones of Ossifraga gigantea, nelly||6|
|Bones of Apteryx australis, large kiwi||3|
|Bones of Nestor meridionalis, kaka||5|
|Bones of Stringops habroptilus, kakapo||2|
|Bones of tui, gulls, terns, and smaller birds, not yet determined||148|
|Feathers of Nestor meridionalis, kaka||11|
|Feathers of Ossifraga gigantea, nelly||1|
|Feathers of Graculus punctatus, spotted shag||39|
|Feathers of Circus assimilis, harrier||1|
c.—Remains of Fishes.
|Bones of Oligorus gigas, hapuku (Mollusks.)||39|
|Unio aucklandicus, trays||1|
|Mesodesma cuneata, trays||1|
|Mactra discors, trays||1|
|Artemis subrosea, trays||1|
Objects of Human Workmanship.
|Canine tooth of dog, bored at base||1|
|Needle made of humerus of Ossifraga gigantea, nelly||1|
|Awl made of distal end of tibia of Ossifraga gigantea, nelly||1|
|Proximal end of humerus of Ossifraga gigantea, nelly, neatly cut off||1|
|Apparatus for lighting fire by circular motion, made of pukatea, Atherosperma novœ-zealandiœ||2|
|Apparatus for lighting fire, by rubbing lengthwise, made of komaku, Carpodetus serratus||2|
|Portions of apparatus for lighting fire, by rubbing lengthwise, made of komaku, Carpodetus serratus||3|
|Portions of apparatus for lighting fire by rubbing lengthwise, made of patete, Melicope ternata||1|
|Portions of fork, made of manuka, Leptospermum scoparium||1|
|Portions of spear, made of nene, Dracophyllum sp.||1|
|Pieces of timber, pukatea, Atherosperma novæ-zealandiæ||4|
|Piece of timber, portion of a canoe (?) of tawai, Fagus menziesii||1|
|Portions of pile, totara, Podocarpus totara||2|
|Chips of totara, Podocarpus totara||3|
|Fork made of manuka, Leptospermum scoparium||1|
|Piece of pukatea, Atherosperma novæ-zealandiæ, portion of a canoe (?)||1|
|Pieces of tawa, Nesodaphne tawa, probably portions of a bird spear||2|
|Polished stone implements, adze perfect||1|
|Polished stone implements, fragments. One of these resembles the point of a tool called tamatan by the Maoris, formerly used by them to make fishhooks||17|
|Pieces of gritty sandstone, taraiwaka of Maoris; some with grooves from sharpening tools||4|
|Quartz, agate, chalcedony (cores)||4|
|Chipped flint implements, of which ten are cores; of the rest five only show any recognisable form, of which two are spearheads, three knives, the rest being mostly flakes||34|
List of objects found in the upper, or Maori, deposits of the Moa-bone Point Cave:—
a.—Remains of Mammals.
|Bones of whales, ziphoid||12|
|Bones of porpoise||9|
|Bones of dog||51|
|Bones of sea leopard, Stenorhynchus leptonyx||11|
|Bones of fur seal, Arctocephalus cinereus||37|
|Bones of little fur seal, Gypsophoca subtropicalis||19|
|Bones of rat||3|
b.—Remains of Birds.
|Small pieces of Moa bones, mostly bleached and decomposed||7|
|Bones of Graculus punctatus, spotted shag||104|
|Bones of Graculus sp.||17|
|Bones of Anas superciliosa, grey duck||8|
|Bones of Circus assimilis, harrier||3|
|Bones of Ardea alba, white crane||2|
|Bones of Casarca variegata, paradise duck||3|
|Bones of Apteryx australis, large kiwi||2|
|Bones of Ossifraga gigantea, nelly||1|
|Bones of small birds, not yet determined||37|
|Feathers of Graculus punctatus, spotted shag||62|
|Feathers of Stringops hatroptilus, kakapo||49|
c.—Remains of Fishes.
|Bones of hapuku, Oligorus gigas||164|
|Bones of other fishes not yet determined||37|
d.—Remains of Mollusks.
|Mytilus smaragdinus, mussel, numerous, tray||1|
|Chione stutchburyi, cockle, numerous, tray||1|
|Mesodesma chemnitzii, pipi, numerous, tray||1|
|Amphibola avellana, periwinkle, numerous, tray||1|
|Mesodesma cuneata, numerous, tray||1|
|Lutraria deshayesii, kokotu, about 30 of them lying very close together upon the dirt-bed, tray||1|
|Mactra discors, a few, tray||1|
|Voluta pacifica, a few, tray||1|
|Turbo smaragdus, a few, tray||1|
|Unio aucklandicus, a few, tray||1|
|Haliotis iris, a few, tray||1|
Objects in Wood, Bone, or Fibre.
|Pieces of a toa, a long thin spear made of tawa, Nesodaphne tawa, to shoot birds with. At the upper end a barbed point, called tara, was fastened, made of human or bird's bone||6|
|A wooden implement (fishhook) made of pukatea, Atherosperma novæ-zealandiæ, with a small piece of whale's tooth, called mata, standing backwards. Manga oko-oko||1|
|Fernroot pounders, Patu aruhe, manufactured from maire, Santalum cunninghamii||4|
|Fernroot pounder, Patu aruhe, manufactured from akeake, Olearia sp.||1|
|Fragments of Matiha tuna, fork for spearing eels, made of manuka, Leptospermum scoparium||4|
|Portion of a batten for a whare, kaho, made of turepo, Hoheria populnea, ribbon-wood||1|
|Portions of several Whaka kai, wooden dishes, for the preservation of fat and juice||13|
|Parrot-stands, Taka ore kaka, made of pukatea, Atherosperma novæ-zealandiæ||2|
|Pu-tatara, small trumpet, blown by the mouth, made of a Struthiolaria shell, with an opening at the point. According to Maori information, its use was confined to chiefs, the approach of whom would be announced by its sound||2|
|Mata, mouth of flax bag, made by twisted thin sticks, for preserving birds in their own fat, after being cooked||1|
|Taka kai, matting used for covering the food in the hangi, or oven, to keep it clean from the earth and ashes||2|
|Parenga-renga, sandals made of flax, or of ti-tree leaves (not used in the Northern Island)||3|
|Pieces of nets; the floater of pumice stone attached to one of them, is called poito||4|
|Pawa shells, in which the holes at the exterior border are filled with flax, used as a vessel for keeping oil||4|
|Fishhooks, Matao, for catching hapuku, made of kaikai-atua, Rhabdothamnus solandri||4|
|Fishhook, made of rata, Metrosideros||1|
|Piece of timber, of pukatea, having holes on both sides for fastening the boards of a whare||1|
|Karera, a wooden handle made of totara, to fasten a piece of greenstone, to be used as a chisel||1|
|Portion of a Patu patu, a large wooden hammer, made of manuka||1|
|Tahatiti-whaka, a squared piece of wood (totara), to fasten the sides of a canoe||1|
|Puru, made of manuka, pin to stop the holes of a canoe for letting the water out||2|
|Kauhuhua, a wooden pin, made of manuka, to fasten the battens across the canoe||2|
|N.B.—Some of these pieces were remarkably smooth, so that they looked as if planed. After the timber had been worked with stone adzes, it had doubtless been smoothed down with pipis, or a piece of greenstone, used like a spokeshave.|
|Tokai, a thin long stick, used to keep the mouth of the fishing-net open||2|
|Ripipawa, a knife made of manuka, to loosen pawa shells||1|
|Matiha, fighting spear, made of manuka, pieces||6|
|Pieces of timber having been used for various purposes, such as fire-sticks, portions of canoes, whares, and utensils of daily life; portions of mats, cordage, etc.||53|
|Korapu, portion of net for catching inangas (whitebait)||1|
Objects in Stone.
|Portions of broken polished stone implements||3|
|Portions of broken polished greenstone||1|
Objects collected in the kitchen middens of the Moa-hunters, amongst the sand dunes near the Moa-bone Point Cave:—
|Bones of fur seals, Arctocephalus cinereus||69|
|Bones of small fur seal, Gypsophoca subtropicalis||23|
|Bones of dog||36|
|Bones of whale (Ziphoid)||7|
|Bones of Euryapteryx gravis||33|
|Bones of Euryapteryx rheides||49|
|Bones of Meionornis casuarinus||15|
|Bones of Meionornis didiformis||53|
|Tracheal rings of different species||18|
|Pieces of egg-shells, trays||2|
|Bones of Graculus punctatus, spotted shag||28|
|Bones of Eudyptula pachyrhynchus, crested penguin||17|
|Bones of Eudyptula undina, small blue penguin||13|
|Bones of Anas superciliosa, grey duck||10|
|Bones of Nestor meridionalis, kaka||6|
|Bones of Apteryx australis, large kiwi||3|
|Bones of Casarca variegata, paradise duck||3|
|Bones not yet determined (small birds)||27|
|Objects of Human Workmanship.|
|Pieces of Moa-bones, partly prepared for fish-hooks||2|
|Ornaments made of the humerus of the albatross, probably to be suspended from the neck||2|
|Polished stone implements, chert||3|
|Polished stone implements, fragmentary||8|
|Pieces of gritty sandstone for polishing and sharpening||9|
|Pieces of obsidian, of which several have the form of spear-heads||13|
|Piece of pumice stone, evidently used for polishing purposes||1|
|Knives and scrapers of flint||7|
|Cores of flint||4|
|Flakes of flint||48|
|Flakes of palla||2|
|Chipped pieces of basalt, of which two are nicely formed spearheads; many are evidently chipped for knives, scrapers; a few being cores||66|
|Total of objects collected||2,797|