Question: Did Maori own all the Moa?

A Moa bone, not the Moa bone

A Moa bone, not the Moa bone

A Hawera man is trying to selling fossils he claims are dog bones, dog teeth and Moa bone fragments.

A war of words has flared up between a museum curator and a Hawera man who is trying to sell moa bones through an online auction.

Whanganui Regional Museum natural history curator Mike Dickison   has criticised the listing of a handful of bone fragments.

But the seller, who wanted to be known only as Ray, has defended his actions, saying he found the bones while walking along a south Taranaki beach several years ago.

Ray this week listed fossils he says are dog bones, dog teeth and moa bone fragments, with reserves starting at just a few dollars.

Dickison  said there was no proof that the items were not dug up from a known archaeological site.

It is illegal to damage, modify or destroy excavation sites.

“From the condition of the bones, moa experts have said that this material is archaeological material,” he said.

Ray  said the bones would have succumbed to the elements if he had not picked them up.

“If I don’t pick it up, it’s going to be destroyed and gone forever,” he said.

“I’ve seen people walking along the same area crunching the bones under their feet.

“They just think they are cow bones.

“I can’t help myself. I just have to collect things.”

He said all the items for sale were  found on top of the sand and had not been dug up.

Dickison said that if  Ray was selling the objects overseas without a permit he was in violation of the Protected Objects Act.

Ray, who says he is a registered collector of taonga tuturu, said he would stop selling the items if what he was doing was deemed to be illegal.

Registered collectors are allowed to  buy privately owned taonga tuturu and must make their collections available for examination by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage.

Taonga tuturu means the object relates to Maori culture, history or society and was manufactured, imported or used by Maori at least 50 years ago.


Is a specific Moa bone automatically related to Maori culture?  What about history or Maori society?

It was not manufactured or imported.  But it can have been used by Maori “over 50 years ago”.  You know, as they were cooking the meat stuck to it.

Do you own all the chicken bones you have ever eaten chicken off?   Is it fair to say you have a historical relationship with it?

How do you see this situation?


– Laird Harper, Taranaki Daily News

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.