Art. LXX.—Discovery of Maori Implements at Takaka, Nelson.
[Read before the Nelson Philosophical Society, 28th March, 1892.]
During my recent trip to the Takaka district I camped for one night near Rangihaieta, or Black's Point. I had previously been told that the natives had a legend that at this spot, before the advent of the pakeha, there had been a massacre of their race by an invasion from the North Island. I was further informed that there was not the least likelihood of making any discovery of native relics, as the place had been thoroughly searched again and again.
Mr. Bryant and myself arrived on the spot late in the afternoon, and as soon as the camp had been pitched, &c., I started to reconnoitre, as the shades of evening were fast falling, and I wished for a clear, definite programme for an earlier morning start.
After ascending the headland, and taking a hasty survey of the surroundings, and as I turned to retrace my steps, I endeavoured to picture to myself the probable line of attack and retreat, &c. As if by an inspiration I seemed at a glance to comprehend the whole scene; and, further, in the event of a wounded chief fleeing for his life, one spot appeared the most likely for him to endeavour to reach, and there I argued he would be most probable to hide his axes or any other articles he valued. In the twilight I went straight to the spot (a group of limestone rocks). When near, I found there were several holes and cavities in them, some filled with stones. My mind was concentrated upon one of these; and after removing the loose stones, at a distance of about 18in. I could distinctly feel the end of a stone axe. After some trouble I removed it, and then, digging into the soil with my fingers, I unearthed two bone points for spears (Pl. LIV.). On the following morning, after five or six hours' fruitless search all around the headland, I completed the search in this same cavity, and unearthed another axe of very hard stone, 4.¾in. by 2.½in., a thin greenstone axe with a hole drilled in it, a bone implement which I take to be some kind of whistle, and which Professor Hutton states is made from the human radius, a small piece of white quartz-crystal, some pipi shells (Mesodesma novœ-zealandiœ), and vertebræ and jaw-bones of barracouta (Thyrsites atun).
The depth of the cavity was a full arm's length, and from the solid nature of the accumulated soil I should suppose these implements must have been deposited where I found them at least eighty to a hundred years, and perhaps far longer.
The strange part appears to be the remarkable way in which I was led, as if by intuition, to where they were found, more especially when the next morning a laborious search of five or six hours resulted in not a single trace of anything else being discovered.