Volume 2 1893 > Volume 2, No.3, September 1893 > Did the Maori know the moa? by Joshua Rutland, p 156
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- 156

IN February last I was given two scraps of bone dug out of a shell-heap or kitchen-midden, near the head of the Kenepuru reach, Pelorus Sound. These scraps on examination were found to be moa bones. Soon after a vertebral bone was sent to me from the same locality. This was found buried in the soil close to an old cooking-place. From these relics it seems reasonable to conclude that moas were eaten by the ancient inhabitants of the Sound, but where did they procure them? The open country of the Wairau and Awatere, where bones have frequently been discovered, naturally suggested itself, but during a recent visit to another part of the Sound, I received from a friend, Mr. James Foote, five large bones picked up while sowing grass-seed on a clearing in Pokokino bay. One of these bones, a femur, is in the smallest part five-and-a-half inches in girth, being twenty-three inches in length, though both joints are wanting. A little more than a year ago I was on the ground where the bones were collected; it was then covered with dense bush, full of supple-jacks, kiekie, and other climbing plants, many of the largest trees measuring four to five feet in diameter. It seems incredible that a bird like the moa could have existed amongst such surroundings, yet Mr. Foote says that on the clearing referred to, the bones were so plentiful he used them as marks when sowing the grass-seed, and that at Tawera point, about six miles further down the Sound, they are more abundant. In Mary bay, North-West bay, and Mahau reach, bones have also been picked up, thus proving moas were at some time both numerous and widely distributed throughout this part of the district. In the Pelorus valley no moa bones have been discovered during the last thirty-three years, though a large extent of land has been cleared of bush and brought under the plough, besides in one of its tributaries the Wakamarina, a large mining population, has been at work for several years. On the shores of the Pelorus Sounds there was at some former period a numerous population, and much of the land now, or very recently covered with trees must then have been open. Traces of man of considerable antiquity have been discovered in the Pelorus valley, but from the absence of certain remains extremely plentiful along the shores of the Sound, I can only conclude that the ancient inhabitants of the district dwelt principally, or altogether on the coast. The moa remains now coming to light may evidently belong to this period of human occupation, or the extinct bird may have been a denizen of the forest,—no bones being found in the large level inland valleys is extremely opposed to the latter supposition.