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.


  1. Posted February 3, 2007 at 12:39 PM | Permalink

    Hi, I have been informed that the Monarch butterfly migrates to other countries. Could this be true?

  2. Posted February 3, 2007 at 12:42 PM | Permalink

    Hi, I have been informed that the Monarch butterfly migrates to other countries from New Zealand. Could this be true?

  3. Posted February 3, 2007 at 12:43 PM | Permalink

    Its natural home is the Americas, specifically from Canada down to Mexico. It came to NZ via Hawaii, Rarotonga and Fiji in the mid 1800s. They have also spread to Australia.

    However according to information that I have been given, it does not migrate from NZ – although it is possible that some get carried overseas on seasonal storms.

    Hope that helps!


  4. Posted April 13, 2007 at 11:46 AM | Permalink

    Reported Monarch sightings across the Pacific Ocean

    1840 Hawaii: 1857 Ponape: 1863 Tonga: 1867 Samoa: 1869 Raratonga: 1870 Lord Howe Island: 1872 Tahiti: 1873 New Zealand: 1881 New Caledonia.

    Source: The Monarch Butterfly: Author; George Gibbs (Pages 62 & 63)

    Ron Pincott 13.4.07.

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