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Trustees and Officers

The Trustees and Officers are responsible for the governance of the Moths and Butterflies of New Zealand Trust.

The Moths and Butterflies of NZ Trust began life as the Monarch Butterfly NZ Trust in 2005, established to protect the overwintering habitat of the monarch butterfly at Butterfly Bay in Northland. It was incorporated under the Charitable Trusts Act 1957 as a registered charitable trust, No. 1679763, with donee status.

After some years and the realisation that NZ's other Lepidoptera badly needed our help, the name was changed to the Moths and Butterflies of NZ Trust and the aims expanded accordingly.

The trust is registered with the Charities Commission (CC11297) with the vision of ensuring that Aotearoa New Zealand's ecosystems support thriving moth and butterfly populations. The mission is to engage with New Zealanders to ensure our biodiversity promotes a thriving moth and butterfly population.

Maurice Mehlhopt

Auckland, Trustee and Chair, appointed 17 March 2016

Maurice Mehlhopt popped his first swan plant into his Ponsonby garden and that one plant has now become many. There is a constant swirl of monarch butterflies all around over the summer.

Having spent all his working life in the strongly logical hard edge of the business world, how a slug shuffles on a green coat and emerges as a butterfly amazes him.

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Jacqui Knight

Blockhouse Bay, Secretary/Trustee, appointed 7 June 2005

Jacqui lives in Blockhouse Bay, Auckland where she is a freelance writer, desktop publisher, and the persona of ‘Madam Butterfly’ when she visits schools to talk about… butterflies.

Jacqui has been playing with butterflies ever since she can remember; taught all she knew to her two sons and three grandchildren too.

She has had other adventures too, which are on websites and

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Meriel Astrella

Hamilton, Trustee, appointed 20 February 2022

Meriel has lived in Hamilton since she emigrated from Canada to New Zealand 25 years ago. She quickly grew to love her adopted country. She has a son (18) and a daughter (11) and is a very keen gardener and beekeeper.

For over six years she has been working as the Finance Officer for Vardon Primary School. Prior to that she was the corporate financial administrator for the Philips Search and Rescue Trust for six years. They own and operate the Waikato Westpac Rescue Helicopter and four others in the central North Island. This fostered her interest in the not-for-profit sector.

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Mark Bateman

Auckland, Trustee, appointed 20 February 2022

Mark Bateman was the NZ Regional Director of Storage King, working to expand the business throughout NZ. He is a Life Member of the Self Storage Association of Australasia, an industry he has worked in for many years.

While family is his prime interest being a Life Member of Eden Rugby sees him involved in club organisation and watching a lot of rugby during the winter. He also likes classic cars, belonging to the Zephyr Club, and driving a Mark 1 Zephyr as his hobby car.

During the late 90’s, when Auckland was sprayed for the painted apple moth, Mark saw the devastation of monarch butterflies in the Mt Albert area. He says that if he can help bring colour to our gardens then he thinks that it is a good thing. Mark has the responsibility for the development of our National Butterfly Centre / Te Matauranga o nga Pūrerehua o Aotearoa.

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Hugh Smith

Bay of Plenty, Trustee, appointed January 2015

Hugh Smith joined the trustees in January 2015. He had been a teacher for 31 years, nineteen years of these as a primary school principal.

Throughout his teaching career, Hugh has used the natural environment as a teaching context and has facilitated numerous camps and field trips believing that students should learn about the world they live in by going out and exploring it. Hugh’s work experience has included accounting, residential childcare, youth work and as field assistant with a wildlife film team. He also volunteers at the butterfly garden at Te Puna Quarry Park, and supports Norm Twigge on the Forest Ringlet Project.

Hugh lives in Omokoroa, just north of Tauranga and also enjoys reading, gardening, kayaking, environmental projects and travel.

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Zenobia Southcombe

Palmerston Otago, Trustee, appointed 17 April 2023

Zenobia is a writer and photographer, with a background in teaching, who swapped the bustling pace of Auckland for a house in rural Otago. She has published several books and exhibited her paintings and photography in shows across Aotearoa.

It was when Zenobia saw her first kahukōwhai (yellow admiral) visiting a patch of stinging nettles in her garden that she discovered a passion for butterflies. Recognising the importance of biodiversity, and the role our lepidoptera species play, Zenobia now works to make her garden a sanctuary for wildlife, and shares her learning through a weekly newsletter.

When she’s not writing, Zenobia can be found with her head amongst the nettles, or nestled in the tall grass, as she tries to get the perfect shot of her little winged friends.

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Martin Visser

Kaiteriteri, Trustee, appointed 20 February 2022

Martin has worked in business consulting, marketing, marketing research, strategic planning, sales and in the investment advisory industry for almost 30 years. He has a Bachelor of Management Studies (Hons) from University of Waikato and is a current RMA Commissioner. He has studied German language to Masters level, French to end BA, learned Dutch, two years of te reo and has a Statistics minor. Of late he has consulted to local councils and has served as a Whanganui District Councillor.

He has worked for large multinational and national organisations including AHI/Carter Holt Harvey, American Express/Fletcher Challenge and BNZ. Later he created his own consultancy and several businesses, managing the three-year strategic planning process for American Express and the Bank of New Zealand.

He is on the Gordon’s Park Scenic Reserve Board which, with DoC, administers one of the last stands of kahikatea forest in the lower North Island. Martin has planted and weeded at the reserve as a volunteer twice-monthly for the last 6 or 7 years. Martin has also been on Pākaitore Historic Reserve Board for nine years, leading its strategic planning process.

His various roles have provided him with many contacts amongst Tupoho, but also Tamaupoko, Ngāti Apa and Ngā Rauru.

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Carol Stensness

Far North, Treasurer, appointed 2010

Carol Stensness lives in the Far North, having escaped from Auckland (and the traffic), and has had a lifelong interest in Monarchs. She remembers having swan plants at home as a child.

In 2002 she started rearing butterflies in a couple of converted wooden banana boxes, partly to help save the few plants she had, and also to protect the caterpillars from paper wasps. Now she has numerous caterpillar castles and finds them invaluable.

Carol has a background in administrative and accounting support, has been a member of the MBNZT since its inception, and Treasurer since 2010.

Pictured: Carol with her grandson, Riki.

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Brian Patrick

Christchurch, Biodiversity advisor

Brian Patrick is a professional butterfly scientist and the author/ photographer for several books on natural history including two that specialised on butterflies.

He has researched Lepidoptera for nearly fifty years in NZ and overseas, producing over 250 publications on the subject. He has served as a Ministerial appointment on the Otago Conservation Board, and as Past President of the New Zealand Entomological Society. Previously he was Project Leader of the Otago Museum’s Tropical Butterfly House development and has also been Director of Central Stories Museum, Alexandra, Central Otago.

With his son Hamish he authored BUTTERFLIES OF THE SOUTH PACIFIC in 2012. He has recently retired as a consultant scientist based in Christchurch specialising in insect–plant relationships.

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