Hunting the Moa postcard

This postcard was part of a student prank early last century.
Te Rangi Hiroa (Sir Peter Buck) “hunts” a moa in Dunedin’s Woodhaugh Gardens.

The Stout–legged Moa was a squat bird with short legs and broad pelvis lived in most parts of the South Island and a few northern regions. It was the dominant species east of the Alps in the South Island and and the coastal areas of the South eastern North Island. This bird was at home in forest fringes and scrublands. A considerable amount of fossilised remains of stout-legged moa exist due to the good preservation properties of their habitat and the frequency with which they turn up in Maori middens.

The Coastal Moa, the Eastern Moa and the Stout–legged Moa had a diet probably dominated by fruit and leaves and larger insects.

All Moa species, as in all birds, had a syrinx, bird’s vocal organ. Worthy and Holdaway postulate that because the Coastal Moa, the Eastern Moa and the Stout–legged Moa, together with the Upland Moa had the smallest olfactory chambers, they had the greatest vocal abilties. They perhaps needed loud calls in their mixed dense grassland, shrubland and forest environments.

The trachea of moa were supported by many small rings of bone known as tracheal rings. Excavation of these rings from articulated skeletons has shown that at least two moa genera (Euryapteryx and Emeus) exhibited tracheal elongation, that is, their trachea were up to 1 metre (3 ft) long and formed a large loop within the body cavity.[9] These are the only ratites known to exhibit this feature, which is also present in several other bird groups including swans, cranes and guinea fowl. The feature is associated with deep, resonant vocalisations that can travel long distances.

The Moa and the Lion
Sub Species:

Other common names:  — 

E. geranoides.

Description:  — 

Extinct bird

Poetry:  — 

Tenei, E tama! Te whakarongo ake nei ki te hau mai o te korero,
Na Tu–wahi–awa te manu-whakatau i mau mai i runga i a Tokomaru
Parea ake ki muri i a koe, he atua korero ahiahi.
Kotahi tonu, E tama! Te tiaki whenua, ko te kura-nui,
Te manu a Rua-kapanga, i tahuna e to tipuna, e Tamatea,
Ki te ahi tawhito, ki te ahi tipuna, ki te ahi na Mahuika,
Na Maui i whakaputa ki te ao;
Ka mate i whare huhi o Reporoa, te rere to momo
E tama – e – i!

Listen, my son, for I hear rumours spoken
That the manu–whakatau was brought here
By Tu–wahi–awa on the Tokomaru canoe.
Reject this story as an idle tale.
One guardian only, O son, had this land,
The Kura–nui, the bird of Rua–kapanga.
Destroyed by your ancestor, by Tamatea, with subterranean and supernatural fire,
The fire of Mahuika, brought to this world by Maui.
Thus were they driven to the swamps and perished;
Thus was the species lost, O son

— Transactions of the NZ Institute,
Vol. XLVIII, 1916, 426-434.

Illustration description: — 


Early 20th century postcard. Mock Moa bunt, Botanical Gardens, Dunedin, circa 1904. Shows Sir Peter Buck and Koroneho Hemi Papakakura hunting a Moa reconstructed from a skeleton by Augustus Hamilton, then registrar of Otago University.

The Moa and the Lion, postcard by Trevor Lloyd issued in 1905 to represent the extraordinary success of the New Zealand All Black rugby team during its tour of England that year.

Reference(s): — 


Oliver, W.R.B. New Zealand Birds, 1955.

Worthy, Trevor H., & Holdaway, Richard N., The Lost World of the Moa, 2002.

Page date & version: — 


Tuesday, 27 May 2014; ver2009v1


©  2005    Narena Olliver,    new zealand birds limited,     Greytown, New Zealand.