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Helping the Monarch butterfly in NZ

7 July 2005

People are making a difference, helping the Monarch butterfly throughout New Zealand.

"We have been inundated with correspondence - email and regular mail," said Jacqui Knight, speaking on behalf of the recently-formed Monarch Butterfly NZ Trust."The letters have been truly heart-warming - with confirmed sightings of overwintering sites in Christchurch, Palmerston North and Hamilton to date."

The Monarch Butterfly NZ Trust was formed to share knowledge on the much-loved Monarch, but also to undertake scientific research on the butterfly's overwintering habitat at Butterfly Bay. Letters published in many New Zealand papers have also generated useful facts and figures.

Jacqui said that she had been able to find Tim Healy, who wrote of discovering the butterflies' retreat in the June 1963 Weekly News:

"As we entered the bush - which in itself has no claim to beauty - we saw the odd butterfly flitting around, but as we progressed we found the air full of them, twisting and turning in the sunlight. Then we saw that, everywhere, the branches of the trees were festooned with settled butterflies, hanging in clusters on the foliage like colourful Chinese lanterns."

"Some of the sleepers were hanging with their wings closed together, in other clusters, the butterflies were opening and closing their wings as if in some ritual exercise, and the colours glowed on the shafts of autumn sunshine that pierced the foliage, making a picture of indescribable beauty."

"For a while we stood watching. Then, suddenly, as if a warning had been given the butterflies took flight in unison. The whirr of their wings could be distinctly heard, and the air was filled with black and orange against the green of the foliage and the blue of the sky."

Jacqui said that today there are much less butterflies at the site, and people must wonder why it is even called Butterfly Bay.

"An entomologist will understand many more things about the ecology of an area than someone like me," she said. "We will then share that information with our members and other butterfly lovers, the developers of the property and the immediate community. It should be useful information for anyone wishing to encourage this fragile insect, from which we learn so much about metamorphosis and caring for Nature."

The Monarch Butterfly NZ Trust will then make a submission regarding the development to the local councils.


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