Quick Facts

Quick facts about moa:

  • Both moa and the Haast eagle are extinct, which means there are none still living.
  • More moa roamed the south island than the north island.
  • The moa were herbivores, which mean they ate plants.
  • Moa were flightless birds.
  • Moa belong to the family of birds called ratites, whose living members also include the kiwi, the cassowary and the emu.
  • Giant moa were tall, around 2.5m high, while the Haast eagle (Te Hōkioi) was wide, with a wingspan of around 3m.
  • DNA studies suggest that while moa feathers were typically brown and drab, they could be speckled like a chicken and some species had white-tipped feathers.

Quick facts about Te Hōkioi:

  • Also known as the Haast eagle, Te Hōkioi got its Māori name because of its characteristic cry.
  • Te Hōkioi had beautiful plumage: a predominantly black and white bird, it had a crest of red feathers and its wing tips were green or gold.
  • Over twice the size of the American bald eagle, Te Hōkioi had a wing span of over 3m and could dive at speeds of up to 80km/hr.
  • With its sharp talons and vulture-like beak capable of shredding carcasses, Te Hōkioi was a carnivore, which means it ate meat.
  • From studies of the bird’s pelvis, scientists believe Te Hōkioi was robust, strong enough to carry off a child or kill a giant moa.


This painting by John Megahan shows Te Hōkioi attacking its prey, the giant moa. (In Public Library of Science Biology).