WHAT IS A MOA?
I have been questioned by a number of people regarding the title of my blog. While I trust anyone reading should understand what the term ‘soaring’ refers to, moa are a mystery to many. Allow me to briefly educate those who are interested.
Moa were large, wingless, ostrich-like birds that roamed the forests of New Zealand prior to the unanticipated introduction of the first mammalian pest; man. They were herbivorous and basically had the run of the place with the exception of a very large predator, a fact I shall toss in to entice you into reading further. I know. Dramatic tension, right?
If you have been struggling with the dynamics of how these wingless birds flew, allow me to confirm they were definitely flightless. They did not soar at all. I am also wingless, yet I fly all over the world. A pun some would say. I’ve heard better though.
There were 9 species of moa throughout New Zealand with the largest and most famous standing a proud 3.6 metres (12 feet) in height and with the females weighing in at 230 kg (510 lb). That would make an inviting amount of KFC, especially if you are an average-sized hungry person.
As you can likely tell by my use of past tense, the moa are no longer with us, having been hunted to extinction by hungry mammalian pests. That is unless you ask one of the modern moa hunters who remain convinced these flightless giants still roam the forests of the South Island.
Moa are a tragic tale of how ignorance allowed something to disappear from this world. Hopefully people will learn from it one day. Though in my experience people are generally stubborn when it comes to overcoming ignorance.
With the disappearance of moa, their prime predator became extinct shortly after. The Haast’s eagle was a massive eagle that lived in the forests of New Zealand. Judging by what I have learned the Haast’s eagle was, to put it as precisely as I can, a badass.
It was the largest eagle by body weight and is thought to have been the basis for the Maori legend of Pouakai, a bird so large it would kill and eat people. Imagine having that monsterous raptor alive today; hiking the spectacular trails of the South Island would be a very different experience with the Haast’s eagle overhead. I imagine the possum population would take a hit too.
Also, just to be clear, ‘The Flying Moa’ is a bar in Mt Wellington, Auckland. Apparently they do some pretty good pub food there. They will probably serve beer from the Moa Brewing Company as well. I’ve never tried it, but it exists.