15 Nov 2014

Mike Dickison: moa bones

From Saturday Morning, 10:35 am on 15 November 2014
Moa skeleton at the Whanganui Regional Museum

Moa skeleton at the Whanganui Regional Museum Photo: RNZ

Dr Mike Dickison is Curator of Natural History at the Whanganui Regional Museum.

He talks about the museum's moa collection and 3D scanning project, the Wiki Wednesday project for updating Wanganui pages, and how  a loophole in the law means the selling of moa bones is not illegal.

Mr Dickison says thousands of moa bones are looted from archaeological sites around New Zealand and, once they were moved, all scientific data was lost.

"Things are really starting to hot up on Trade Me and people seem to be looting particular archaeological sites."

"Some buyers are selling thousands of bones. A lot of the lots are being bought by traders who split them up and sell them on again."

Mr Dickison said trading in moa bones was not covered by the Protected Objects Act or the Wildlife Act but the appropriate minister could extend the Wildlife Act to cover it. He and a number of other curators want the loophole closed up.

He said the bones were not supposed to be taken from archaeological sites or conservation land and, when asked, people who were selling them said they had "had them for ages, been in the family".

Mike Dickison talks to Kim Hill live at the Whanganui Opera House.