In an effort to help the population of the Weta grow. William Scholten, 6, of Karori, goes in for a better view of a Cook Strait giant weta. Gone from the mainland for more than a century, William’s mate is one of about 100 making a comeback at Karori Wildlife Sanctuary.
The release is the first of four planned from Matiu-Somes Island and Mana Island, with 450 of the mouse-sized insects eventually expected to be transferred. Nancy McIntosh-Ward is the sanctuary chief executive. Yesterday, she said she was delighted about the new guests.
Weta were like “living dinosaurs“, as unique to the New Zealand landscape as kiwi and tuatara. The Cook Strait giant weta Weighed up to 27 grams and measuring about 70 millimetres long. Rats and stoats origiganlly drove them from the mainland. The giants were herbivores. We think they are more docile than their common relatives despite their size. In another first, we fitted 20 of the weta with radio transmitters. This monitors their movement around the sanctuary, she said. New Zealand is home to more than 70 species of weta.
The word comes from Wetapunga, the Maori god of ugly things.