This argillite quarry in the hills behind Nelson city was used by Māori before European arrival. Māori valued argillite’s strength, hardness and ability to hold a sharpened edge – which make it ideal for making tools (especially adzes). Māori quarried the stone by lighting fires to heat the rock faces, then throwing on water to fracture the rock. They also used hammerstones to break up smaller boulders, carrying up granidiorite pebbles and cobbles weighing as much as 25 kilograms from the Boulder Bank for this purpose.
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Photographs by Jock Phillips
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