No moa, no moa
in old Ao-tea-roa
Can’t get ’em
They’ve eat ‘em
They’ve gone and there ain’t no moa.
The tragic extinction of the big bird
By Tony Orman
For 50 million years, several species of moa browsed the natural grasslands, scrub and forest of New Zealand, not unlike deer and other wild animals do today.
But in a geological blink of the eye, moa became extinct.
Moa were preyed on by the giant Haast’s Eagle and Eyle’s Harrier and from about 1300 AD by the Polynesian immigrants. The predator pressure on the flightless birds became immense. Fires were lit accidentally or for the hunting purpose of driving the birds from cover. Either way, much of the moa habitat was destroyed.
Unquestionably the combination of the raptors and “the moa hunters” caused the rapid plummeting to extinction within just a century or two.
The author explains the unusually swift extinction of the bird and concludes that possibly a few remnant moa may have survived until 1880.The demise of the moa to extinction by the time the European settlers arrived in New Zealand, is certainly an extraordinary story.
The moa comprised nine different sub-species. The giant moa was tall at 3.6 metres in height and a big bird weighing in at 250 kilograms. The eggs were rugby ball sized. In contrast, the bush moa was the most common sub-species and the smallest at just 50 cms tall.
Browsing done by moa and other birds
The Forest and Bird Society and some in government departments, have constantly maintained over decades that New Zealand’s vegetation evolved in the absence of browsing. The falsehood is one of the details which has on occasions been expounded to school children.
But others including scientists have maintained vegetation evolved in the presence of avian browsing of the bush and grasses and that deer and other wild animals have generally filled the niche in the ecosystem, once filled by moas and other birds over millions of years.
Children and even adults should be captivated by the story of New Zealand’s extraordinary extinct bird and the equally remarkable Haast’s eagle and the North Island’s Eyle’s harrier.
“What Happened to the Moa?” is great for kids story time with excellent illustrations to complement the concise yet informative text. It’s a credit to the talented Ned Barraud who has both written and illustrated the book.
What Happened to the Moa written and illustrated by Ned Barraud. published by Potton and Burton. RRP $29.99
Ellen May said:
Interesting in this age of “disinformation” and “misinformation” is the distorted picture zealous green groups have painted a picture of New Zealand’ vegetation being unbrowsed. The moas (in their mllions?)browsed heavily no doubt but there were other vegetarian birds and canopy dwellers. Some still exist today such as the kereru (pigeon). The kokako is another. It is important youngsters are not fed misinformation.
I have seen this book. It is very good. Well done Ned Barraud and Potton and Burton publishers.
Roger Childs said:
Ellen is quite right about the birds browsing in the open forests – moa, kereru and kokako. Unfortunately in the 1920s Government botanist Leonard Cockayne and later Forest and Bird, did not accept that birds had had a major impact in earlier times. He became obsessed with eliminating browsing wildlife like deer. As regards the rapid demise of the moa, the Polynesian hunters indulged in “over-hunting” and slaughtered far more than they needed for food, especially in the eastern South Island where there were “meat works” along the mouths of rivers. The leading expert on moa, Quinn Berentson, estimates that “perhaps 100,000 moa were butchered and cooked … at one camp alone… “. Ned Barraud’s book sets the record straight for children about the largest bird that has ever lived on the planet during human times.
Brian Johnston said:
Another excellent book is, At War With Nature by Bill Benfield.
An amazing read. Bill also refers to the idiot Leonard Cockayne.
I say the 1080 bullshit should stop. Now!
Maori exterminated them all by greed. Like most everything else they touch. The Huia is another NZ Native bird they hunted for it’s feathers ,The raping of Mussel, Pipi beds, Crayfish and the list goes. When Cook arrived Maori in the Poverty Bay area were in a state of emancipation caused by near starvation hence why he named the area. They literally had ravaged all food sources.