Saturday, February 23, 2013

What moa do you need to know?

Haha, silly pun, sorry. I have just bought this informative and entertaining tome about the extinct moa, that I always think of as a giant chicken, because I keep remembering my first trip out of New Zealand, to [Western] Samoa, where I learnt that the Polynesian name for 'chicken' is: moa. So I always imagine the reaction of those Polynesian voyagers who first arrived and settled in God's Own Long White Cloud, when they saw the largest of the moa, naively grazing and looking delicious: "Wow! Look at that humungous chicken!" And I think that for those first Kiwis the name moa was perhaps, almost a joke...

But obviously I need to read the book and find out what the latest scholarship is on the naming of the moa, and everything else of course. And what a reasonable price it is for such a weighty volume (1.61 kg) - with such high production values - $50! How do they do it?

Moa: The Life and Death of New Zealand's Legendary Bird by Quint Berentson, published by Craig Potton, 2012. Hardback with jacket.

I attended the launch of this book a few days ago at the premises of Dunedin's distinguished Natural History New Zealand where the author celebrated with his colleagues, family and friends, members of the publishing and book selling industry and other well-wishers.

"It’s a serious book about a popular subject and will fill a real gap in our natural history literature," says publisher Robbie Burton. "It’s a fascinating story and an important book that richly recounts and illustrates the life and death of the giant bird."

Read a review from the Otago Daily Times here.

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