Gloves, a protective container, and special mounts - just a few of the measures taken to ensure newly-discovered ancient Moa bones live on in history.

The bones are believed to be about 500-years-old. They were excavated from inside a cave in the Kaweka Ranges after being discovered there in 2015.

Huriana Lawrence, who calls himself the great-grandson of Māori god Maui, lead the excavation.

Mr Lawrence says the ancient story of Maui who fled from Waimarama to live in sacred caves in the Kawekas - the same place he had heard a Moa bone was lying - is what inspired him.


"Sometimes we get a calling, and I think it was a calling."

He says other cultural aspects, such as birds singing and flying close by, and bio photon lights glowing from rocks, encouraged their dig.

"We ended up finding the large femur intact, then secondly a broken femur, we also found the pelvic region lodged between two rock outcrops."

This suggests New Zealand's largest bird had fallen into the cave in which it was found, broken its leg while doing so, and died there.

But this isn't the only story to be told about these bones.

National Aquarium of New Zealand Educator Jake Brookie says: "Moa, the bird we know today, actually had many different common names such as Manu Nui, or the large bird, or Te Kura, the red bird."

However, when early Europeans asked Māori for more information about the bird - the word "more" somehow morphed into Moa - which is how the extinct bird is known today.

"It may be a name but it's certainly not the only one and that's something the display is working on raising awareness on," Mr Brookie says.


MTG Exhibition Technician Tom Mohi has been tasked with creating mounts for the bones.

"You're working with something that used to be alive which for me is quite cool... we usually deal with plates and saucers."

The MTG Hawke's Bay no longer stores natural history but the bones have been prepared there.

The expedition was filmed for educational purposes and Mr Lawrence has donated the bones to the National Aquarium of New Zealand in Napier where they will go on display next month.

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