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New Zealand’s first bilingual moth guides launched

Schools and public libraries across New Zealand have received the country’s first bilingual identification guides to native moths.

Ngā Puka Whakamārama o te Pepe Nui Beginners’ Guides to Macro Moths are designed to engage New Zealanders with the most conspicuous of New Zealand’s moth species, and through moths engage with nature and science.

The Ahi Pepe Light programme combines aspects of te reo, science, nature, art, and Te Ao Māori to provide classroom activities in both te reo Māori and English.

Each school and library has received a te reo Māori and English-language version of Ngā Puka Whakamārama o te Pepe Nui – Beginners’ Guide to Macro Moths for their region, along with access to extensive online resources.

Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research scientist Dr Barbara Anderson says the online resources provide teachers and whānau with information and vocabulary, along with engaging exercises to learn about science experiments and the world of moths.

‘For the first time, every person in New Zealand will have access to this,’ Dr Anderson says. ‘They will be able to identify moths on their own.’

About 1,750 moth species have been identified in New Zealand, and about 86 per cent of these are endemic. Its estimated that three to four hundred endemic moth species have yet to be named or described.

The programme stems from Ahi Pepe | MothNet, which began in 2015 in Otago. The project was designed to collect information and engage children, teachers and whānau with moths, and through moths with nature and science.

Dr Anderson hopes that using the resource will enable schools and teachers to collect moth distribution data each year, which will help scientists understand the effects of environmental change on the moth populations in each area.

Schools across the country have participated in earlier Ahi Pepe | MothNet initiatives, including investigating nocturnal biodiversity in Otago, looking at moths as ecological indicators of the health of the natural world, presenting Ahi Pepe at the World Indigenous People’s Conference on Education in Toronto, running a radio show, and taking part in the Ahi Pepe | MothNet camps as precursors to setting up and running experiments at their own schools.

Ahi Pepe | MothNet guides are available in all New Zealand schools and public libraries with complementary Ahi Pepe | MothNet Light resources available online.


The Ahi Pepe | MothNet project is a collaboration between Manaaki Whenua; Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu; the Department of Geography, University of Otago; Orokonui Ecosanctuary; Te Tumu, University of Otago; Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ōtepoti; and Otago Museum, with thanks to Plant and Food.

The project is funded by MBIE’s Curious Minds programme and New Zealand's Biological Heritage National Science Challenge.

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