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Rights: University of Waikato
Published 28 June 2018 Referencing Hub media
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The Ahi Pepe MothNet team have given Māori names to some of the moths they’ve observed. Watch as Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ōtepoti students name a moth and as Dr Robert Hoare explains why names help us to identify moths.

Point of interest

Robert mentions Averil Lysaght. Learn more about the groundbreaking female biologist, science historian and illustrator in this Te Ara article.

Transcript

DR ROBERT HOARE

And this one is named Graphania averilla, and it was named after somebody called Averil Lysaght who was interested in moths.

DR BARBARA ANDERSON

There you go. If we are lucky, we could get things named after us.

DR ROBERT HOARE

It really helps people get into moths, to understand them better if they have a name that’s more approachable to use, because the scientific names are often quite long, quite difficult to get your tongue around. Some of the moths that we were looking at today belong to the genus Tmetolophota, and we don’t have very many words in English that begin with tm, so that’s quite hard to say and difficult to remember. If we have English names and Māori names that have a more obvious application to the moth that actually means something to people, then that gives them a sense of satisfaction. And sometimes it’ll help to identify them, because if you’ve got a name that’s very well made, that’s very appropriate to that moth, then that is going to be helpful when you see it.

MAIA

When Whaea Barbara first told us about the Māori names, we had to find out why Whaea Barbara gave them the names. And we had this moth, and when we were trying to figure out why, Whaea Barbara told us, “Look at the wings and say what they look like.” And we were saying different things, like they look like little eyeballs and little holes, and we just learned a lot about this moth.

DR ROBERT HOARE

It’s beautiful. It’s very common – Graphania mutans.

DR BARBARA ANDERSON

Graphania mutans. There we go.

STUDENT

This one looks super old, but it probably isn’t.

DR ROBERT HOARE

Maybe if we had a Māori name for it, we could use …

GEORGIA

Kiwikiwi! 

OTHER STUDENTS
Kiwikiwi!

DR BARBARA ANDERSON

We could call that one kiwikiwi. That’s a good one to call kiwikiwi because kiwikiwi is quite a common name and that moth is quite common.

GEORGIA

Oh my gosh, so I just named the moth!

DR BARBARA ANDERSON

So, that’s our common name for that one. Graphania mutans – kiwikiwi. 

STUDENTS

Kiwikiwi, oh great!

DR BARBARA ANDERSON

Can you remember Graphania mutans

STUDENTS

Graphania mutans. I just think of mutants.

DR BARBARA ANDERSON

Because it’s grey? It’s got grey hair, Robert.

GEORGIA

Wow, I just named them. That’s pretty cool.

DR ROBERT HOARE

This morning when we were getting the moths out of the moth traps, we came across a common species called Graphania mutans. We don’t have very many English names even for New Zealand moths, but that one has been called the garden owlet. And one of the children immediately came up with a Māori name for it, which was kiwikiwi, meaning grey, because of the colour and the fact that it looked sort of old and grey.

Acknowledgements
Dr Robert Hoare
Dr Barbara Anderson
The tamariki of Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ōtepoti
Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research