| South Island giant moa|
Moa were a number of species of large, flightless birds, endemic to New Zealand, ranging in size from a little larger than a turkey to 13 feet tall, the tallest known birds. They were hunted to extinction shortly after the arrival of the native Maori population in the mid-15th century.
Moas were stout-bodied birds with long necks and large legs. Illustrations depict them as being entirely erect in the manner of ostriches, but in reality their posture was that of emus or cassowaries, the body kept horizontal when walking, with the neck held in a gentle forward loop. The head was relatively small in relation to the body, with small eye sockets and large olfactory regions, indicating they may have had poor eyesight but a good sense of smell. Moas are also distinctive in that they are the only birds known not to have wings, not even vestigial ones.
The only feathers known come from the upland moa (Megalapteryx didinus), with were dark at the base, gradually turning to a greyish-white at the tip, and possibly giving the live bird a light speckling appearance over a dark coat. They were rough and rather hair-like in texture, similar to a kiwi, lacking the barbules which link the filaments together as in other birds.
- Family Dinornithidae
- Genus Dinornis
- North Island giant moa, Dinornis novaezealandiae
- South Island giant moa, Dinornis robustus
- Family Emeidae
- Genus Anomalopteryx
- Little bush moa, Anomalopteryx didiformis
- Genus Emeus
- Eastern moa, Emeus crassus
- Genus Euryapteryx
- Coastal moa, Euryapteryx curtus
- Stout-legged moa, Euryapteryx gravis
- Genus Pachyornis
- Crested moa, Pachyornis australis
- Heavy-footed moa, Pachyornis elephantopus
- Mantell's moa, Pachyornis geranoides
- Family Megalapterygidae
- Genus Megalapteryx
- Upland moa, Megalapteryx didinus
Prior to the arrival of man the nine species of moa had one natural predator, Haast's eagle (Harpagornis moorei). In about the year 1280 the Maori arrived and began the first human settlements and the clearing of land for farming. Hunting was also an activity, and the only large animals of any kind in New Zealand were moas. It had been estimated previously that hunting and habitat change caused the gradual extinction of the moas by the late-1700s, however, recent carbon-14 studies on trash middens have shown that all moa species became extinct by 1445, a span of less than 200 years after man's arrival.