How did the Monarch get to NZ?

One of the letters I have received asked how the Monarch arrived in NZ. I quote from a paper presented by Drs Lisa Berndt and Stephen Pawson, who work in the area of forest research based in Canterbury.

They tell us that while it is native to Central and Upper South America, during the 1800s the Monarch spread throughout the Pacific, Australiasia and large areas of South East Asia.

“The origin of Monarch butterflies in NZ is still unclear. The first reported sightings in the early 1840s by Sturm (1878) were published 38 years after the event. These sightings were reported to have resulted in the transfer of pinned speciments to international colleagues, however such specimens have never been found.”

They refer to Maori elders having a traditional name for the Monarch butterfly (kakahu) which suggests a non-recent arrival.

However, the first reliable published accounts of Monarch butterflies in NZ were not until 1868.

4 Comments