Friday, January 13, 2006

 

Ancient Maori artefact discovered on beach

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The New Zealand Herald
January 12, 2006


Don Wilson (back left) of Hawke's Bay Museum,
with Danish tourists holding a 500- to 600-year-old
Maori adze they found in Northland.
Picture / Hawke's Bay Today

Three Danish tourists wandering along a deserted beach on their third day in New Zealand, spotted a piece of history lying on the shoreline. They immediately recognised that the smooth stone lying in the sand was like ancient battleaxe heads they have seen at home.

Yesterday, the three men - Martin Jacobse, 19, Kristian Kappel, 19, and Kenneth Jespersen, 21 - handed their discovery, a Maori toki (adze) to the Hawke's Bay Museum.

Their finding came last month after the trio, on their first day out of Auckland, drove 120km north to the remote Puketotara Peninsula on the west coast. When the road ended they then tramped through dense bush to scale a peak "that we could see that we would like to have dinner at". "The bush was taller than us," Mr Jacobse said. "On the way back we found a bay and we found it lying on the sand where the water comes up to. At first we thought it was just a nice stone."

Because of their tiredness, they considered leaving the adze where it was. "We were quite exhausted after walking and we wondered if we could carry it all the way back," he said.

"In Denmark they have them in museums and from time to time you see them on the west coast, but they're for killing people and are quite different. "We showed it to people in garages when our car was broken down and they were very impressed and said be careful because of the spirits involved."

Yesterday the trio handed the toki to a clearly impressed Don Miller, honorary curator of archaeology at the Hawke's Bay Museum.

"I would say it would be between 500 and 600 years old. It's in very good condition and is very well made," Mr Miller said.

"It's actually used for the felling of trees and working with wood basically. It's a very good example of its kind and is made of basalt, a volcanic rock which is common in the area in which it was found."

Mr Miller said the details of the Danes' holiday discovery would be sent to Te Papa Museum and after a blessing was performed on the toki, it would most likely be given to a museum closer to where it was found in Northland.


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