Bringing the moa to life

November 24, 2013
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Moa: The Life and Death of New Zealand’s Legendary Bird, by Quinn Berentson (Craig Potton Publishing, RRP $50):

There has been much written about our long-extinct moa but this book by Dunedin-based writer, domentary film-maker and photographer Quinn Berentson manages to be both comprehensive and accessible.

These unusual birds developed in isolation millions of years ago but became extinct fairly quickly after the arrival of the Maori (hope you are listening Gareth Morgan, you can’t blame the moggies for this one) and were nothing but a distant memory by the time European explorers landed here.

This book kicks off with the discovery of moa bones during the 1840s, which caused something of a worldwide sensation and was believed by some to be the zoological find of the century.

It then documents the many new discoveries and revelations about the moa over the year, some of which have been the result of DNA testing and radio-dating.

Berentson has managed to pull together every piece of moa-related information you are ever likely to need without turning this into a hard-covered lecture: the illustrations are interesting, the text engaging and the pricetag reasonable. That makes it a package that’s pretty hard to beat.

Jillian Allison-Aitken

I come from the other land down under, where men are men, and sheep are nervous. I'm a sub-editor and in the past have been a proof-reader, news editor and web editor. I am also an ex-columnist, and book and software reviewer for the local daily newspaper.I still read. A lot. And surf the web. Also a lot.You'll find a little about both of those pastimes here, and on By George.

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