The Arrival of the Maories

The Coastal Moa was one of the smallest of the Moa birds. The Coastal Moa and the Eastern Moa and the Stout-legged Moa are stout, short-legged birds with a broad blunt bill, the Stout-legged Moa being the stoutest of the three species of the sub family Emeiae.

The Coastal Moa lived in the drier areas where there was abundant shrubland as well as open canopy forest and some grassland. It was widespread throughout most of the North Island and the dominant species in the central North Island, the volcanic plateau, and along the Wanganui - Taranaki Coast.

The male stood about a metre tall, the female a little taller at around 1.3 metres. The species weighted around 20 kilogramms. However, there is a wide variability in size within species, some birds being twice as big as the smallest in the species.

The Coastal Moa, the Eastern Moa and the Stout-legged Moa had a diet probably dominated by fruit and leaves and large insects, unlike the larger birds which had a more fibrous diet consisting of twigs as well. Chicks fed on insects.

All Moa species, as in all birds, had a syrinx, the bird’s vocal organ. Worthy and Holdaway postulate that because the Coastal Moa, the Eastern Moa and the Stout–legged Moa, together with the Upland Moa had the smallest olfactory chambers, they had the greatest vocal abilities. They perhaps needed loud calls in their mixed dense grassland, shrubland and forest environments. They also postulate that males may have had lek behavior or even been noctural. We don’t know.

Stealing Christmas chickens
Sub Species:

Other common names:  — 

Little scrub moa.

Description:  — 

Extinct bird

1.3 m., 20 kgs.

Poetry:  — 

Ka ngaro a moa te iwi nei.

This tribe will become extinct like the moa.

Illustration description: — 


The Arrival of the Maories, Trevor Lloyd, postcard circa 1905.

Stealing Christmas chickens, Trevor Lloyd postcard, circa 1905

Transactions of the NZ Institute, Volume 24, 1891

Reference(s): — 


Worthy, Trevor H., & Holdaway, Richard N., The Lost World of the Moa, 2002.

Oliver, W.R.B. New Zealand Birds, 1955.

Page date & version: — 


Tuesday, 27 May 2014; ver2009v1


©  2005    Narena Olliver,    new zealand birds limited,     Greytown, New Zealand.