The fascinating story of our legendary extinct bird


What happened to the moa 


Published by Potton & Burton, 09 October 2020 RRP: $29.99 hardback / $19.99 paperback 

In his most challenging book to date, author and illustrator Ned Barraud tackles the intriguing story of New Zealand’s prehistoric, flightless bird – the moa.

Spurred on by the discovery of moa prints (believed to be millions of years old) in a Central Otago riverbed last year, Barraud set himself the enormous task of researching these magnificent birds. He then had to distil his research into a comprehensible narrative for young readers, paired with realistic and detailed illustrations. To date, there has been little material for children which tells the story of moa.

For accuracy, Barraud sought expert advice from Professor Trevor Worthy and Dr Mike Dickison, both of whom gave him valuable feedback throughout the writing and drawing process. The result is What happened to the moa, a beautifully illustrated and instructive book, which brings the moa back to life in all its glory.

Accessible and compelling, Barraud’s book captures untold incredible facts about moa, such as how some were 3.6 metres tall, weighed 250 kilograms and laid rugby ball sized eggs; while others were no bigger than a turkey. Moa also had two fearsome predators – the Haast’s eagle or poitakai and Eyles’ harrier.

Barraud’s narrative is clear and concise, as he explains to readers what happened to the moa that caused all nine species of the bird to be driven to extinction so quickly. What happened to the moa concludes with one of the last possible sightings of a moa, by a girl from a settler family in Fiordland in 1880.

Readers will be richly rewarded by what they learn and, having laid out the information in bite sized chunks, Barraud’s book is an ideal resource for classroom projects, as well as story time with parents and caregivers, and for independent reading. Children are captivated and love to learn about Aotearoa’s extraordinary extinct birds; What happened to the moa is sure to fire their imaginations.

Ned Barraud studied art at Victoria University of Wellington and has been illustrating children’s books since 2000. He has illustrated seven books in the highly successful ‘Explore and Discover’ series about different ecosystems in New Zealand, and three solo book projects, including Watch out for the Weka, and 2018’s acclaimed book on insects Backyard Beasts. He is also the author and illustrator of Where is it?: A wildlife hunt for Kiwi kids, which also comes out in October. In 2019 he released two books: Tohorā: The Southern Right Whale and Rock Pools.  Ned lives in Wellington with his wife and three children. For more, go to:

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