The team working on Te Ahu a Turanga: Manawatū Tararua Highway project has uncovered moa bones, in a discovery described by the project site archaeologist as being of great significance.
The bones of at least two individual smaller-sized moa have been found to date, with further smaller bird bone fragments still to be analysed.
The largest complete moa bones found so far include a tibia bone approximately 350mm long and two femur bones of varying lengths, both from the right side which indicates at least two moa. A pelvis bone, vertebra and other leg bones have also been uncovered.
The discovery was made on Tuesday 9 March, when crews were undertaking excavation work in a gully at the western end of the new highway alignment.
“The team was really excited when it became clear what they’d found. It’s not every day we dig a hole and come across a moa,” Waka Kotahi Owner Interface Manager Lonnie Dalzell says.
“It’s not unusual on projects like this for us to uncover animal bones, midden, and sometimes even koiwi, but moa bones are rare. We believe it is one of first moa bones finds in the area, and is an amazing discovery for our project whānau and the region.”