Story: When was New Zealand first settled?

Moa bones

Moa bones

These moa foot and leg bones are from a site north of Chinamans Bluff on the banks of the Dart River in Otago. The ruler between the bones is about 90 cm long. Moa bones in midden remains (a midden is a rubbish heap) have only been found in very early Polynesian settlement sites – then they disappear. It seems Polynesian settlers hunted the giant birds to extinction, so rapidly that probably only the first few generations regularly tasted moa flesh.

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Department of Conservation
Photograph by Brian Ahern

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How to cite this page:

Geoff Irwin and Carl Walrond, 'When was New Zealand first settled? - Extinction and decline', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 13 April 2024)

Story by Geoff Irwin and Carl Walrond, published 8 Feb 2005, updated 1 May 2016