Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 42, September 1998

Mr R Murdock (Joint Patron with Mr A Reid of the Paeroa and District Historical Society) gave members of the Society a most interesting talk explaining the manufacture and use of various artefacts held at the Paeroa Museum. He described the collection, much of which was given to the Museum by the late Ted Duffy, as being very comprehensive and of considerable interest value; a collection that the Paeroa Museum was very lucky to have.

An English writer once wrote, referring to the Biblical prophets and poets, "It is refreshing to get back to the thoughts of men whose chief library was their mind and whose university was the traditions of their race". This remark might, with like truth, be applied to the Maori people and to a study of the rich store of tradition, poetry and artcraft.

Artefacts described in the talk included the following:-

Stone adzes - There were two completely different cultures in New Zealand and these can definitely be defined by the type of adzes which were used. There were the adzes of the "Moa hunter" culture, the Moa hunters being regarded as a people who preceded the arrival of the immediate ancestors of the Maori. The other distinctive type of adze was that of the classical Maori period.

Mr Murdock described the "hog-backed" adze, adzes with long handles that were made for trading purposes, treasures that could be exchanged for food, and typical Maori adzes. They were sharpened using fine sandstone and polishing was finished on their hips.

Totara bowls used for storing food - Firstly a layer of seaweed or kelp was put around the outside of the bowl and then a layer of shark or pigeon fat, which seeped through the seaweed, forming an airtight seal. Then whatever food was to be stored was put in the bowl, followed by another layer of fat. This was covered with fine mountain flax, plaited, then more fat. Food stored in this manner (eg mutton birds, smoked fish), would keep almost indefinitely.

Stone sinkers

Wooden beaters (patu) used for extracting dye and softening roots.

Pumice bowls. Every pa had a big cooking place. The fire never went out and pumice bowls were used to "take" fire to a new place. Fire was very sacred. Some pumice bowls are huge but those held in the Museum are only small ones.

Fire starters - sticks used to start a fire.

Pigeon troughs (waka kereru). A pet pigeon was tethered to one end of a trough containing food and it would "call" other pigeons in. Someone would sit at the other end, operating a lasso and when a pigeon landed for food, the lasso would be pulled and the pigeon caught. These troughs were sometimes 25 - 30 feet up a tree and the one held in the Museum was one of three found in the Ureweras.

Eel trap (hinaki) These were mainly made of mangemange, a vine-like fern, and baited with kunekune (pig) blood. Eels could get in, but not out of these traps.

Stone food pounders (patu muku) used like pestles and mortars. Flax and flax roots were ground up, flax being used not only for food but also to make linseed oil, used as a preservative on a lot of implements.

Members were most impressed with Mr Murdock's vast knowledge of the items described and appreciated various anecdotes which he related.