What traditional materials did Māori use to make their tools?
Level: Intermediate / Secondary
Since first arriving in Aotearoa New Zealand, Māori have been using natural resources such as stone and plants to make tools for heaps of different purposes, including building, carving, food, tattooing and weapons.
Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand is an excellent starting point for all questions about New Zealand Aotearoa. If we scroll down to the bottom of the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.
Type the keywords 'Māori tools' into the search feature on the home page and have a look through the results. There's heaps of info here. We particularly like these stories:
Kōhatu - Māori use of stone, because it covers different types of stone and their uses.
The use of tools was also very important when it came to gathering food, so check out Te hī ika - Māori fishing.
There is also good information on the page about Kūmara which is where you can find out about Māori gardening tools and storage.
Māori also used tools for artistic purposes, so have a look at the Whakairo - Māori carving page.
HOT TIP: It's a really good idea to try different keywords in your searches to see if that brings up different results. We tried another search, this time using the keywords 'Māori technology'. This did bring up information about modern Māori technology but there is also valuable information in these stories:
Tā moko - Māori tattooing, has a section about the traditional tools used in tattooing, including pigments and chisels.
Mau rākau - Māori use of weapons has info about traditional weapons and what they were made from.
Te Papa: Museum of New Zealand is a great place to look further into this topic. Try a search for Māori tools on their site and look through the results. There's information here about Māori gardening tools, traditional Māori food gathering, Matau - traditional fishhooks and more.
HOT TIP: We like sites like this because they’re reliable. You can tell because of their web address – they have .govt meaning they are from a government organisation. They’re also New Zealand sites, so relevant for us.
The Auckland Museum is another website that has some good information on this topic. You can try a search for Māori tools and bring up lots of results including fact sheets and information about items in the Auckland Museum collection. You can also search by image for lots of pictures of different tools.
HOT TIP: Websites that have .com or .co in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the ‘about us’ link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the company’s mission and values are.
Don't forget, we have lots of other ManyAnswers entries on pre-European Māori that might help you out, too.