Research Items


    Maori Fortification.—The Records of the Auckland Institute and Museum, vol. 1, No. 1, contains an account of the examination of the Piraunui Pa at Matawhana, Waikato, N.Z., by Messrs. J. W. Delph and Gilbert Archey, director of the Institute. The elaborate terraces of the Maori fortification are situated on natural strongholds formed by series of rock-capped headlands of the high rhyolite plateau of Central Waikato. The general layout of the fortifications is as follows: (1) A flat portion of the marae high up on a broad spur, below which is (2) a series of terraces on either side of the steeper ridge formed by the narrowing spur, leading down to (3) a still narrower and much steeper sided ridge cut across by a deep fosse and so forming a strongly protected approach to (4) the stronghold and citadel, a rhyolite-capped, vertical-walled spur rising with precipitous cliffs above the Waikato valley. The pa is very rich in storage pits of both the subterranean and semi-subterranean type. The former are built on flat ground wherever available, tHe latter at the base of some of the terrace walls. The subterranean pits are 6–9 ft. in diameter and about 5 ft. to the dome. In one which was cleared it was found that the floor was divided into bins, which would indicate its use for the storage of roots. In one, the original door-frames were still in place, tightly fitting to keep out the loose soil. Resting on the upper edge of one was a slab, the wood being well cut and originally about 2 in. in thickness. These pits penetrated into the hard rhyolite, and it was possible to see the method of working. Blocks of stone were worked behind or undercut so as to enable large slabs of rock to be broken off. The finish showed a skill which would not disgrace the efficient tools of a modern mason.

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    Research Items. Nature 126, 451–452 (1930).

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