Coastal Restoration Trust of New Zealand

Coastal Dune Ecosystem Reference Database

The Moa Fauna (Aves: Dinornithiformes) of the Auckland and Coromandel Regions, New Zealand

Gill, B.J.; Furey, L.; Ash, E.
Journal / Source
Records of The Auckland Museum
palaeontology, archaeology, Māori middens, Anomalopteryx, Pachyornis, Euryapteryx, Dinornis, geographical distribution, relative abundance
We examined museum collections to compile a list of all known moa remains collected within the Auckland area and Coromandel Peninsula (North Island, New Zealand) from both natural and archaeological contexts. Moa remains have been found at 45 locations within our study-area, with many locations represented by just a few bones in a largely fragmentary state. The collections are dominated by bones of the leg, with skulls, pelves and complete skeletons under-represented. Calculation of the minimum numbers of individuals (MNIs) represented by the remains reveals at least 74 moa individuals from Auckland and 101 from Coromandel Peninsula. Moa bones from the Auckland region were mostly recovered from natural sites (80% of the MNIs), principally the Late Holocene swamp site at Clevedon. Moa bones from the Coromandel were mostly found within archaeological sites (at least 60% of MNIs) that are concentrated on the Coromandel Peninsula’s east coast. Identification of the remains shows that all four North Island moa species were present in Auckland and Coromandel during the last few thousand years. The regions differ in species representation, with Anomalopteryx didiformis best represented in Auckland and least represented in Coromandel, while Dinornis novaezealandiae was strongly represented in Coromandel and least abundant in Auckland. These differences could be attributed to the habitat preferences of the moa species, and the uneven representation of habitats across our sites, but in the Coromandel region selective Māori hunting strategies may also have influenced the result.