Time to bring back... the moa

SIMON EDWARDS AND VERNON SMALL
Last updated 11:30 01/07/2014
Trevor Mallard

BIG BIRDS: While admitting it’s a bit of a stretch, Trevor Mallard wants to investigate the possibility of moa one day striding again through the bush.

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Trevor Mallard continues to push his idea that moa may one day roam in Wainuiomata, despite his leader saying the "moa is not a goer".

Labour's Hutt South MP presented the idea to 30 or so businesspeople at a development breakfast in the Lower Hutt suburb Wainuiomata.

While admitting it sounded "a bit Jurassic Park", Mallard said scientists had been making progress on techniques for using recovered DNA from extinct animals to reconstruct new life. Moa could return to the bush of Rimutaka Forest Park, he said.

"It would certainly give us international focus and, frankly, I can't think of a better place. Those valleys [behind Wainuiomata] are accessible without helicopter, with a one-hour walk."

Mallard said his speech at the breakfast meeting included why he loved the suburb and a long term look to the future.

He was aware that he had opened himself to "bird jokes and extinction jokes" but people once laughed at those who said the kiwi would return to Wainuiomata.

Asked about leader David Cunliffe's comment that "the moa is not a goer", Mallard said: 'The Moa will be a goer but we are talking 50 to 100 years out."

"Of course it's not official Labour Party policy".

He was not concerned about support from caucus colleagues on the issue.

Mallard insisted he was "absolutely serious" that New Zealand should be taking advantage of science as it develops.

"I only want the small moa in Wainuiomata. I don't want those that are 240kg and 3.5 metres tall. I'd like ones that I could pat on the head."

Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace said the discussion was worth having.

"I think it will capture people's imaginations. And after all, 20 years ago if we'd said kiwis would be back in Rimutaka Forest Park, people would have laughed at us.

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- The Dominion Post

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