Book: Moa sightings volume 2 (print version)

Book: Moa sightings volume 2 (print version)

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Date Added: Sunday 10 July, 2011

by Bruce Spittle

A review of Moa Sightings by Richard Muirhead in Flying Snake: a journal of cryptozoology, folklore and Forteana, 2011;1(1):58-9. Flying Snake homepage: http://homepage.ntlworld.com/richmuirhead/cryptozoology.
(The rating of good was added by B Spittle).

I knew next to nothing about the evidence for the survival of the moa in New Zealand from c. 1150 (chapter 110) up to the (in?) famous 1993 Craigieburn Forest Park sighting (chapter 151). However, I am now able to thoroughly recommend Bruce Spittle’s three volume “Moa Sightings.” But book a six month holiday on some remote unexplored island to fully absorb this thoroughly researched body of work. This is not a book for casual reading but a serious reference source.
The caption on the back cover of each volume explains:
“Hunting pressure, habitat destruction, and introduced predators led to moa extinction by A.D. 1650 according to the previously held serial overkill model. In the currently accepted rapid “blitzkrieg" model, all the moas were gone by A.D. 1450, over 300 years before the first Europeans landed with Captain Cook in 1769. However, a number of moa sighting claims have been made since 1769 and the author offers for consideration a staggered survival model in which moas lingered on until a later date in some remote, isolated areas. The available circumstantial evidence for a few moas remaining after 1769 is presented including reports suggesting survival in circa 1810 by Kawana Paipai, 1845 by Burr Osborn, 1863 by Patrick Caples, circa 1825–1875 by HJ Cuttance, and 1878 by Sir George Grey.
The author, Bruce Spittle, is of part-Maori descent and lives in Dunedin.”
The volumes are divided into chapters giving name(s) of the witnessing and the “claimed time and place” for the moa being alive. Taking volume 1, chapter 1, as an example:
John Boultbee 1826, Milford Haven (Milford Sound)
Introduction, The Claim, Discussion.
The chapter is well illustrated with a map and photos, as are all the chapters of the volumes. Each volume is comprehensively indexed. One criticism I do have is that perhaps the chapters could have been arranged chronologically. However at NZ$70 a volume with free shipping these are expensive but very worthwhile.

Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!]

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