By PHILIP CHANDLER
An expert on the colourful monarch butterfly, who’s talking to Whakatipu primary school children next week, admits she knew nothing about them when she lived here.
Englishwoman Maria Romero lived in Queenstown for three-and-a-half years at the start of her OE about 20 years ago.
She then moved to Christchurch and, inspired by her kids, became obsessed about monarch butterflies, which are a threatened species.
She’s since written an educational guide, created ‘The Butterfly Musketeers’, as the name of
her website and conservation organisation, and spoken to more than 12,000 schoolkids across New Zealand.
Romero’s continued to visit Queenstown, and brought down caterpillar eggs and swan plants, which are the monarchs’ natural habitat.
Her visit next week, in which she’s speaking at six schools, has been sponsored by local hardware store and garden centre Mitre 10 Mega Queenstown.
Romero says monarch butterflies are ‘‘like a doorway into nature’’, and notes kids are mesmerised by how caterpillars transform, firstly, into a chrysalis and then into a butterfly.
‘‘Kids need magic.
‘‘I teach them about the life cycle and how we all have struggles as caterpillars, but you can live your dream and transform and change.’’