05.11.08 21:13 Age: 9 yrs

Butterfly treat packs a sting

Category: Media


Stinging nettle is most often seen as a threat to humans and animals.

TAKING CARE: Love Your Mountain day organisers Ian Fish, left, and Kit Howden, plant stinging nettle on Mt Eden to create a habitat for the admiral butterfly. photo JASON OXENHAM/Central Leader

But for the admiral butterfly, it holds the key to survival.

The rare creature thrives in a habitat of native stinging nettle.

But as the plant gets treated as a weed and removed, the butterflies are becoming extinct.

Now a group of Mt Eden volunteers want to change that.

In honour of Love Your Mountain Day on December 7, members of the Friends of Maungawhau are planting native stinging nettle on Mt Eden to provide a habitat for the butterfly.

They will also have a stand at the event to give the public more information about the butterfly and how to be safe around stinging nettle.

Friends of Maungawhau chairman Kit Howden says it's important for people to recognise their role in protecting the environment.

"The Friends of Maungawhau are doing our part to bring back biodiversity into the city as well as protect the cultural heritage of Maungawhau and other volcanic cones," he says.

"Cities now have an increasing responsibility to protect biodiversity as part of the ecological crisis the planet faces."

Love Your Mountain Day is organised by the Friends of Maungawhau to celebrate Mt Eden's cultural and archaeological heritage.

Throughout the day people will be able to take guided tours around the mountain, including Eden Gardens and Government House, which is not normally open to the public.

The old Langtons Kiosk will also have displays about the archaeology of the mountain along with future plans for the volcanic cones and information about the admiral butterfly and the stinging nettle project.

Friends of Maungawhau have joined forces with Oratia Native Plants to actively plant the native species of stinging nettle.

Mr Howden says the nettle will only be planted in remote steep slopes out of public use areas.

But it is important for people to be careful when walking on the mountain.

"We have been in contact with the Auckland City Council to organise warning signs, but in the interim we want to get the message out to walkers so that they keep their dogs away from these areas," he

Love Your Mountain Day organiser Karen Jane says the day is a great community event.

"It is about making the mountain accessible to everyone while celebrating our cultural and archaeological heritage," she says.

Love Your Mountain Day will run from 9.30am to 4pm on December 7.

No buses or cars will have access to the mountain, allowing people to explore.

Volunteers are needed to host guided tours and help out on the day.

For more information phone Kit on 630-1490.

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