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You are here: Home  > Faith Alive! | February 2012

Faith Alive! | February 2012

In Faith Alive! this issue:

  • Are you RTGAA?
  • Editorial – Love and hate
  • Jesus believed …
  • Simon the Zealot
  • John
  • COVER FEATURE: Love and hate:
  • God loves
  • God hates
  • Bible crossword about love
  • Bible crossword about hate
  • Random word challenge
  • The moa and geological dating
  • This is God speaking
  • Kenya Youth Conference

A sample article from this edition:

The Moa and geological dating

THE New Zealand Moa is an extinct flightless bird similar to the Emu and Ostrich. It was however, much larger, the tallest ones reaching a height of three metres.

Moa dating and discovery

Since modern Maoris have no historical knowledge of the Moa, it added to the belief that these birds had been extinct for tens of thousands of years. In 1866, in a drained swamp at Glenmark, north of Canterbury, a large collection of Moa bones were found and German geologist Julius von Haast investigated the discovery. After carrying out excavations at the site, Haast estimated that the Moa became extinct about the period of the Dinosaurs. According to accepted geological dating this would place the extinction around 130,000 years ago.

Another discovery

When, a few years later more Moa relics were unearthed near Southbridge, at the mouth of the Rakia River, together with bones of man, Haast was obliged to change his views considerably, revising the Moa extinction to the period of Stone Age man.

This dating also established the approximate arrival period of the earliest Maoris in New Zealand, and the extinction of the Moa was attributed to their destructive hunting methods of firing the scrub to drive the birds out into the open for mass slaughtering.

Yet another discovery

In 1872, in an excavated cave near Christchurch, Moa remains were found in strata that also included tools and implements much more sophisticated than those used by Stone Age man. Haast, who was by this time director of the Canterbury Museum, was forced again to revise his dating for the Moa extinction, to about AD 1100.

In 1939 a fifteen year old farmer’s son named Jim Eyles who lived at Marlborough, discovered nearby several graves containing human remains. In the graves were also found well-fashioned tools such as adzes, chisels, needles and fish hooks, as well as ornaments and necklaces. Also discovered in the site was a Moa egg, which, of all his finds, gave Eyles the most fame.

Dating rethink!

Later excavations in the area turned up bones of other creatures such as eagles, swans and crows, as well as two types of Moa. The ornaments were of Polynesian design and confirmed the earliest settlement date for the original Maoris to be about AD 1100. This means that the extinction of the Moa could not have been very long after that period. The reason why modern Maoris have not passed down stories about Moa hunting seems to be that they were largely crop-growers and not hunters. They are believed to have arrived in New Zealand about AD 1300. Excavations in the North Island have revealed that living Moas of a smaller size than those in the South Island survived until the sixteenth century.

Be that as it may, an extinction date of only 800 years ago is a very far cry from the Dinosaur period – whenever that actually was – and it surely calls into question geological dating of other extinct creatures. The finding in recent times of living Coelacanths, once confidently stated by some geologists to have become extinct 300,000 million years ago, is another such case. This causes one to wonder how much of fossil dating generally is mostly prejudiced guesswork on the part of evolution-prone geologists.

Malcolm Edwards

With thanks and acknowledgements to Glad Tidings magazine and


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