When you have ice, a glacier, capping a hot lava eruption,
you have what they call hydrothermal activity. The lava comes up
and it can’t expand. Lava wants to expand and get air into
it. When it has air into it, you have ‘a‘a and you have
pahoehoe. If it has no air in it, it becomes very dense. It becomes
basalt. It becomes adzes. That’s where the adzes came from,
directly from this battle between Poli‘ahu and Pele.
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A great many names were used to distinguish the different kinds
of rocks. In the mountains were found some very hard rocks which
probably had never been melted by the volcanic fires of Pele.
Axes were fashioned from some of these rocks, of which one kind
was named uli-uli, another ehu-ehu. There were many varieties.
The stones used for axes were of the following varieties: ke-i,
ke-pue, ala-mea, kai-alii, humu-ula, pi-wai, awa-lii, lau-kea,
mauna. All of these are very hard, superior to other stones in
this respect, and not vesiculated like the stone called ala.
The term ala is generally applied to the material, the kind of
stone of which the Hawaiian ax was made, and the ax was often
called ko‘i ala. Ala is a dark, heavy, close-grained basalt.
In the Maori language the same dark, close-grained basalt is named
ka-ra and is used in making the finest axes.
by David Malo
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Dense waterworn volcanic stone, as used for poi pounders, adzes,
hula stones; hard lava, basalt. Kinds of ‘ala rock, as used
for adzes, are qualified by the phrases pia maka hinu, shiny-faced
arrowroot; mahinu, shiny; and maka hinu, shiny face.
Mary Kawena Pukui and Samuel H. Elbert
University Press of Hawaii
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There remain to be mentioned the adzes used by ka po‘e
kahiko for shaping the canoe and its parts. They were made of
stone, compact water-worn basalt, ‘ala — ‘ala
lelekepue, ‘ala piamakahinu, or ‘ala haumeku ‘olokele.
Wherever such stones were to be found the expert stoneworkers
went there to examine the quality and the grain of the stones
to see which would make good solid adzes.
The Works of the People of Old
Samuel Manaiakalani Kamakau
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Hawaiians had to know how to find and extract the best raw materials.
Suitable basalt for adze making is not distributed evenly over
the area. Rather, it occurs in large quantities only in particular
exposures and outcrops with the greatest concentration located
discontinuously along an escarpment at 12,200 to 12,400 feet.
In some cases, efforts had to be made to quarry subsurface deposits
of unweathered basalt.
The quarry’s most conspicuous features are huge accumulations
of stone debris. Blue-grey piles of waste flakes stand out against
the more mottled shades of natural weathered rock. Certain areas
contain vast heaps of preforms and cores, some too large for one
person to lift. In some cases, these stones are found close to
pits cut as much as fifteen feet into the bedrock.
Patrick McCoy/Richard Gould