Hero photograph
Aihuka is Kāi Tahu for frost and references the distinctive white patterning on the wings which resemble frost over the brown soil.
Photo by Dr Barbara Anderson

Meet the Moths and Do Some Origami

Suzanne Middleton, Wild Dunedin —

Did you know that Aotearoa has over 2,000 species of moths and butterflies and that most of our moths are found nowhere else on earth? Dr Barbara Anderson (Dr Barb) and Ahi Pepe MothNet are finding out where our native moths are, how they’re getting on, and how environmental changes affect them. Your challenge will be to make the Aihuka or Lichen Moth using origami created by Dunedin Game developers, Runaway Play.

Moths pollinate plants and they’re eaten by native birds, insects, spiders and reptiles. In other words, they’re a vital part of our ecosystems. But we usually overlook them as they’re out and about at night when we’re inside. Ahi Pepe MothNet is changing that by involving Kiwis in moth research. 

Moth identification guides have been developed in Te Reo Māori based on a research document produced by founding partners Te Rūnanga o Kāi Tahu and then translated into English. 

Every school in New Zealand was sent two guides, one in Te Reo and one in English.  — Image by: Barbara Anderson

This exciting citizen science project ‘aims to engage the public and raise the appreciation of moths and explore their potential to act as ecological indicators of the health and connectedness of our natural world.’ Students, teachers and whānau all over Aotearoa are involved, along with scientists, experts in Te Reo and artists.

Ahi Pepe aims to engage the public and raise the appreciation of moths.   — Image by: Ahi Pepe/Mothnet

As Dr Barb Anderson explains:

‘The name Ahi Pepe is based on this whakataukī by Te Whiti o Rongomai.
I hikaina te ahi tītī, engari i Whakapoapoa kē i te pepe.
The fire was lit to attract the muttonbirds and the moths flew into it.

The analogy of moths being attracted to the flame represents moths being attracted to our lights, and people being encouraged to be interested in moths and their environment. ‘Ahi’ means fire and ‘Pepe’ means moth, which literally translated means the ‘moth fire’ – so Ahi Pepe.’

Image by: Created by Runaway Play

Now see if you can create the Lichen Moth or Aihuka. Below is a pdf that you can print at home on a colour printer and then fold as directed .

Runaway Play is an independent game developer and publisher based in Dunedin New Zealand. They build beautiful games inspired by the natural world.

Share photos of your creations with us using @WildDunedin and @RunawayPlay on Facebook and Twitter.