Volume 35 1926 > Volume 35, No. 137 > Notes on the moa, as contributed by natives of the Wai-rarapa district, by T. W. Downes, p 36-37
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- 36

IN olden times the terms kuranui and manu-whakatau were both employed by the Maori people as names for the moa. When the ancestors of the Maori reached New Zealand the destruction of the moa by fire commenced. Certain parts of the country were burned off, and when these fires spread over the land then the moa fled into swamps, where they perished. Those that did not so perish were hunted by the Maori people, who employed dogs in such hunts. The feathers of the moa were used in the manufacture of garments. The feathers of the breast and back of the bird were of a somewhat darker colour than those of the neck.

The moa survived in the South Island after it had disappeared in the North Island, and it is said that the last moa was killed in the South Island eight generations ago. A native named Te Maire pointed out a place at Waitaki where, he said, his forefathers had captured a moa that afterwards broke away and escaped; also, in a struggle with that bird, three men were killed and the names of the men were given to places nearby.

There were four different kinds of moa known to the Maori, and these were of different sizes; they differed in stature and build, some being heavier framed than others. They were usually seen on the banks of streams and the margins of swamps, and but seldom in the forest. Some say that they caught and ate the small freshwater fish kokopu, inanga, kakawai and karohi. The last-named is said to be a spotted fish found in dead water, such as is found in swamps. Their principal food supplies consisted of various kinds of plants. The moa had a hoarse cry that could be heard for a considerable distance.

- 37

From the bones of the moa were fashioned weapons and other implements, such as a club-like pakuru which was about 18 inches in length. The neck bones were sometimes worn by women as a form of neck pendant.

The natives of the upper Whanganui district speak of a particular moa mentioned in tradition, and which was called Wekanui by local people. This creature was eventually killed, after it had destroyed a number of hunters' dogs.

A remark made by the late Te Matorohanga, of Wairarapa, was to the effect that the wings of the moa were but one whatianga (cubit) in length, and that they had no joints.