These large stone tools were used strictly for the purpose of mashing kalo (taro) into poi, a smooth, sticky paste that was the Native Hawaiians’ staple food. It was a repetitive job that required a lot of arm strength. The poi pounders found on Kauai and Niihau are shaped differently than the ones on the other Islands. They’re cut in the shape of a ring with a hole cut through the stone and in the shape of a pedestal—these are two-handed poi pounders.
There were years of study as to why Kauai and Niihau had an abundance of these, and turns out they were made here, This was a significant discovery that led researchers to believe these poi pounders were made for women. The Kauai women would make poi. It’s heavy work, you know, those poi pounders are heavy. That is what makes it really special. On the other Islands, it was more of a man’s job.