Moa footprints found in Central Otago

Moa footprints have been discovered in the Kyeburn river bed in Maniototo (Central Otago). They are thought to be millions of years old.

Kyeburn marked, near Ranfurly and Waipiata

Kyeburn is an area with the river flowing through it. When travelling inland coming out of the Pigroute you cross the Kyeburn River just after the turnoff south to Middlemarch.

Video of the footprints:

Ian Griffin is Director of Otago Museum.

ODT: Moa footprints found in river

Ranfurly man Michael Johnston ended up making a discovery of international significance, putting the Maniototo into the record books by finding a series of fossilised moa footprints millions of years old.

The footprints were the first moa prints to be found in the South Island and a “glimpse into the past before the ice age”, Prof Ewan Fordyce, of the University of Otago’s department of geology, said.

The imprints were found in the bed of the Kyeburn River, about 15km from Ranfurly, and their discovery was thanks to “an amazing coincidence of circumstances”, Dr Mike Dickison, a moa expert, said.

“I’m amazed at the luck of finding them – catching it in this very brief window between being exposed and being scoured out, and then that somebody happened to be fossicking around and went for a swim and noticed them.

“If any one of those things hadn’t happened, we would never have known they were there, and it makes you wonder how many other moa prints are buried or destroyed, or no-one knows they’re there.”

The imprints were thought to have been exposed by significant flooding in the Maniototo late last year, and it was likely they would not have survived another flood event, Otago Museum natural science assistant curator Kane Fleury said.

Seven clear footprints were found, each about 30cm by 30cm, and an action, preservation and excavation plan for the footprints was immediately prepared.

Dr Dickison said it was likely the moa would be a new species from a branch of the “moa family tree” from millions of years ago, and was most likely a medium-sized moa, which could be similar to the upland moa.

More from Stuff:  Tractor driver finds South Island’s first moa footprints in Otago river

I’m surprised this is the first fossilised moa footprints found in the South Island. There have been plenty of moa bones and remains found. From The Encyclopedia of New Zealand: Fossils

The founder of Canterbury Museum, Julius Haast, collected many moa bones and published papers on his discoveries. Most of these early finds came from dunes, swamps, Māori middens (rubbish heaps) and caves. In Central Otago, caves containing mummified moa with preserved soft tissue were found.

The footprints will add to the moa record.

Cunliffe tries to paper over Mallard ‘wisecrack’

David Cunliffe is once again reacting to awkward news and appears to be trying to downplay a Trevor Mallard ‘wisecrack’ (it is more of a dumb distraction).

Mallard seems to have made most of the political news today with his proposal for resurrecting moa. Stuff reports:

Time to bring back…the moa

With “the science of de-extinction advancing quickly”, as he put it, the Hutt South MP has laid down a challenge for Lower Hutt and for scientists: Let’s work towards the possibility of moa one day striding again through the bush of Rimutaka Forest Park.

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.

Fifty to 100 years from now, Wainuiomata could again be home to the moa, which would make an enormous difference to the environment, community and economy, 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.”

In what seems to now be a regular outlet for Cunliffe’s PR machine Greg Presland tries to play it down at The Standard.

This morning Trevor Mallard said with his tongue at least partially in his cheek that locals and scientists should work towards the possibility of moa one day striding again through the bush of Rimutaka Forest Park. Scientifically the idea is not one that is utterly impossible. Work on genetics goes on all the time and it is possible that one day reconstituting an extinct creature from recovered DNA may actually bring that creature back to life.

Our politicians should be future thinkers and should be willing to discuss ideas and concepts, no matter how bizarre they currently may be.

Social media has exploded. Trevor Mallard and Moa are trending on local twitter feeds in a way which must make the creators of #TeamKey very jealous.

David Cunliffe has joined in the fun. The Herald quote him as saying:

“I don’t think this one’s going to fly. There’s a lot of scientific work to go under the bridge before moas are going to be flopping around in Wainuiomata.

The moa’s not a goer.”

This sounds vey much like a carefully written social media release. It tries to get some counter digs in against National and Colin Craig, then concludes:

Politics can be a brutal, overly serious business sometimes. We should tolerate the odd occasion when our elected representatives break out of their shell and make the odd wisecrack.

But the comments see through this attempt to paper over a wisecrack.

Mallard has deliberately floated this distraction and has gone to some effort to do so. It obviously wasn’t just an off the cuff wisecrack, he had prepared a graphic to go with his proposal.

Media happened to be on hand to report what would usually be a minor political presentation. And in Parliament more media followed up with a stand-up interview where Mallard seemed to enjoy the attention and was taking questions seriously.

From Scoop audio:

Mallard: …have been found in much better condition that people thought they would be found in and it all becomes a possibility.

You know Jurassic Park ended pretty badly?

Mallard: Yeah and that’s why I want, I only want the small moa in Wainuiomata, I don’t want those that are two forty kg and three point five meters tall. I’d like ones that I can pat on the head rather like I did the polar bear over the weekend rather than the ones that are going to bowl us over.

Are you talking about this being fifty to a hundred years away. Are you sad you’re unlikely to see this in your lifetime?

Well you can never tell, with, these days some of us do live longer than our general life expectancy. I would say that I don’t expect to be the MP for Hutt South quite at that time.

Are you serious?

I’m I’m I’m absolutely serious that there is, we should be taking advantage of science as it develops. You can either, you know a lot of people pooh poohed early scientists, ah but but this work is something that is, it’s logical, ah it is already happening around the world and I think in New Zealand we don’t need to spend any money on it yet but we should at least start talking about it.

Do you really think this is a serious priority going into an election?

No.

So this, I mean it’s a good point, is this a good use of your time?

Ah, I made a, I was asked to make a speech in Wainuiomata which was involved why I loved Wainuiomata, and some medium term and some long term vision.

I spent much of the speech talking about housing, about the availability of cheap housing, the problems that the loan rations are causing in Wainuiomata, the fact that we’re not training properly, we’re not doing enough training and the effexct that is having on housing. That was a big part of my speech.

Ah but I was also asked to look way into the future, ah and this is what I did.

Your party has spent weeks trying to get rid of, you know bat off  distractions and now you’re just creating a new one.

I don’t think this is a distraction at all, it’s a it’s a it’s a minor long term idea ah for um for an electorate which we represent.

Will you have to change your GE policy to get this through?

I don’t think so.

So you’ll have to surely.

No no, I think if you look at our GE policy um ah it will certainly be within fifty years we’ll be able to test it against our GE ah genetic engineering policy, we’re not the Greens remember, we do have different policies, we had a royal commission on genetic modification and the answer was caution. Now I think with moa it would be extreme caution.

Anything else you’d like to bring back apart from moa?

Oh, you and your decent chess playing form.

Not former Prime Ministers?

No.

Is there any truth to the rumour that you’re trying to resuscitate Michael Joseph Savage?

Ah, well I think I think we know where to find the remains. Thank you.   

In Mallard: Bring the moa back to life within 50 years 3 News showed Cunliffe saying “The moa’s not a goer” followed by Mallard saying “Well the moa will be a goer”.

This is a very extended ‘wisecrack’. If he is taking the piss is it aimed at the media or at his own party?

Either way this is this sort of thing would result in endless ridicule at The Standard and across social media if it had been said by Colin Craig or someone from Act.

This is a very odd thing for Mallard to promote during an election campaign that has been persistently hobbled by Labour’s own goals.

Leggett lashes Labour

Porirua mayor Nick Leggett describes himself as “a life-long (moderate and pro-enterprise) Labour supporter”. He lashes Labour in despair in a post at The Pundit – Labour’s sins of ommission.

He begins:

Where is the sense of urgency from a Labour party that doesn’t seem terribly fussed about winning this election, or at least seems quite happy to leave it to potential coalition partners to get it over the line?

The biggest crime a Labour Party caucus, activist base and affiliated unions can commit is to not put their party in a position where it can realistically when an election. They can claim all they like to want to bring new talent into parliament through the list, but on current polling, it’s rhetoric – no new faces will make it come September.

It’s worth reading his whole post. He concludes:

Where is the sense of urgency in Labour that says it’s not OK for generations in a single family to be stuck on the dole? Labour is never satisfied with the status quo – we believe that tomorrow can be better. We have a divine discontent that makes us strive to improve on what is.

It would nice for all this be reflected in the Labour Party that faces the 2014 election.

It may be too late for this election, which is not good for New Zealand.  Whether Labour could beat National this election with the help of Greens and others or not a weak (once) major party weakens our democracy.

There’s a growing chance of a Labour vote collapse.

Labour have failed to recover and rebuild since Helen Clark and Michael Cullen packed up and left Nearly two terms ago. nearly six years ago.

More worrying is that in it’s current form it looks unlikely Labour will recover next term either unless something dramatic changes, and with the same old line-up with a procession of leaders that is looking a forlorn hope.

We could be moving to (or have already moved to) just a one major party, several moderate sized parties and several tiny parties model of MMP.

While National hold power we are likely to continue unremarkable slightly right leaning at at times timid government.

When the voters eventually give a hodge podge of parties a turn anything could happen, depending on how small Labour gets, who is leading them at the time and what factions are dominant.

In the meantime dominating the news today:

Time to bring back…the moa

With “the science of de-extinction advancing quickly”, as he put it, the Hutt South MP has laid down a challenge for Lower Hutt and for scientists: Let’s work towards the possibility of moa one day striding again through the bush of Rimutaka Forest Park.

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.

Fifty to 100 years from now, Wainuiomata could again be home to the moa, which would make an enormous difference to the environment, community and economy, 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.”

I’d prefer “time to bring back Labour” as a serious political force but the party looks more like farce.