Documenting Sāmoan to’i ma’a (stone adzes)

Documenting Sāmoan to’i ma’a (stone adzes)

Since 2009, Roger Rasmussen, alongside his role as a Te Papa host, has vounteered to re-house, measure and photograph a collection of to’i ma’a (stone adze) from Sāmoa which were gifted to the museum by Rhys Richards in 1991.

Because of Roger’s important work, the images of the collection are now available for viewing on Collections Online.

Roger Rasmussen, 2009
Roger Rasmussen, 2009

In May last year, Rhys Richards, a local scholar, and former High Commissioner to the Solomon Islands and Sāmoa, visited the Pacific Cultures collection store. He had collected the to’i ma’a in the 1980s from the villages of Solosolo, Lufilufi and Luatuanu’u. The individual to’i ma’a were surface collected by children in the village. Rhys later published a paper on the collection in the journal of Archaeology in New Zealand (1990).

To’i ma’a were often lashed to a wooden handle, and were used for cutting and shaping wooden items such as bowls and canoes.

To’i ma’a (hafted adze); Samoa; Te Papa Tongarewa; FE001540; Gift of J. Fleck

This important collection of about 700 to’i ma’a, provides an opportunity for more research around Sāmoan tools and society, which includes work by archaeologists Roger Green and Janet Davidson in the 1960s.

To’i ma’a (stone adze); Samoa; Te Papa Tongarewa; FE009629; Gift of Rhys Richards, 1991

1 Comment

  1. What a wonderful job Roger has done in helping this unique collection of to’i ma’a enter the Te Papa on-line catalogue.

    I hope someone sends a press release to Samoa’s radio, TV and newspapers.

    This is a major development in our knowledge of Samoan archaeology.
    Ia manuia

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