Story: Pacific migrations

Haast’s eagle attacking a moa

Haast’s eagle attacking a moa

The main avian predator of the moa was the gigantic Haast’s eagle (Harpogornis moorei), with a wingspan of about 3 metres. When Polynesians arrived, the eagle was very much alive, and possibly carried off a few of their number. By 1400 CE large areas of South Island forest were burned off, reducing the habitat of the eagle’s prey; like the moa, it eventually became extinct. In 1872 one Māori told the former New Zealand governor George Grey that the eagle had been known as the ‘hōkioi’, after the sound of its cry, and that it was ‘seen by our ancestors’.

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How to cite this page:

Geoff Irwin, 'Pacific migrations - Māori ancestors', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 19 July 2024)

Story by Geoff Irwin, published 8 Feb 2005, reviewed & revised 8 Feb 2017