MAORI MATERIAL CULTURE
Primitive tools in daily use in New Zealand were flake knives, sometimes even pebble tools, usually manufactured from chert or obsidian. Flake knives were used in the kitchen and for many cutting purposes. Some had secondary chipping giving a sawlike edge. Chert was quarried at many specified points; but obsidian had its main source at Mayor Island (Tuhua) in the Bay of Plenty. To Moa Hunter and Maori alike the treasured obsidian became of much importance, partly because of the ease with which chips might be struck from the parent stone and used as cutting tools. It is likely that a brisk mercantile traffic in obsidian was established for a period of several centuries before the discovery of greenstone. Obsidian was also used for drill points on primitive reciprocal hand drills, by women for cutting their flesh at tangis for the dead, and by men as a flensing tool for cutting up marine mammals which were cast ashore at intervals. Hair cutting was also done with an obsidian tool. Hammer stones for striking flakes from the main core were usually held in the palm of the hand or between the fingers and were of a hard quartzite. Rasps, burnishers, and all grades of polishing stones were manufactured as required, many of varying types of sandstone. A few also were of bone or slate. These stone tools were constantly used by all Polynesian inhabitants of New Zealand.
About 1,000 years ago a new era commenced with the discovery of greenstone or pounamu, a hard fine-grained nephrite rock, first supplies of which came from the Arahura and Taramakau Rivers on the West Coast of the South Island. Circulation of greenstone supplies would be a gradual process over many years, and some recognised form of barter or exchange of presents must have been used by northern tribes to secure the valued pounamu. The possession of huia feathers and obsidian by northern tribes, as well as the finest garments manufactured from Taranaki flax, would place the northerners in a strong strategic position for securing greenstone by peaceful means. It is possible that ownership of greenstone cutting tools would be responsible for the reduced manufacture of stone adzes evident after the arrival of the “Fleet”.