The Mighty Moa


Primeval New Zealand.  A pristine wilderness alone at the bottom of the world.  For millions of years as the country stretched and grew, its unique wildlife thrived inside this isolated island refuge.  Ruling the roost was a night bird, the biggest in the world.  Today, only its bones remain and much of its life and death is lost in the mists of time.  But some of the gaps are slowly being filled in, casting new light on the living history of New Zealand and the lessons the moa has left for the future.

The mighty moa has stirred a mighty debate of science, speculation and suspicion.  The life of the moa and the early Maori is shrouded in mystery.  The only record, a few marks on a wall.  What caused the moa to die out is the subject of intense controversy.  If it died out is another story.

Some believe the moa is still out there.  Incredible stories and the odd photo provoke worldwide excitement.  And some stories have yet to be told.

In this documentary “The Might Moa” Greenstone reminds young New Zealanders that the current dinosaur craze is not just the preserve of Jurassic Park and The Lost World! We had our own mythical “beast” right here – the biggest bird in the world.

In “The Mighty Moa”, young New Zealanders are personified by a “young Indiana Jones” character, played by actor Sean Wells.  Like many before him, he is first bitten by the moa bug by digging up a huge bone.  His subsequent journey of discovery takes him to an underground moa graveyard, into the middle of a moa hunt, in amongst an early Maori village and through significant archaeological sites.  Indi also investigates legendary moa sightings in the late 19th and 20th centuries – finishing with the 1993 sighting by Paddy Freaney and two friends in the Craigeburn Ranges.

As Indi finds out more about the moa so does the audience – and the whole subject comes alive in a dramatic, engaging and illuminating fashion.  By personifying the hunt for the moa – past, present and future, Indi embodies the sense of mystery and imagination centre to the documentary.


Promotional Trailer

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Production Details

Producer: John Harris

Actor: Sean Wells

Director: Mark Everton

Production manager: Mandy Harris

Production accountant: Glenda Paterson

Funded by: TVNZ