Jacinda the wētā discovered living on maunga Taranaki

Taranaki Daily News

Jacinda has been found living on maunga Taranaki – no, not the Prime Minister, but an extremely rare type of wētā which is named after her.

Hemiandrus jacinda is named after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo Zoe Stone.

It is the furthest south that Hemiandrus jacinda has been spotted, and managers of the Te Papakura o Taranaki say it is proof efforts to trap predators within the national park are working.

The discovery was made by a scientist studying endangered toutouwai (NZ robin).

Dr Zoe Stone, from Auckland, spent the summer in the park tagging and tracking the birds for her post-doctoral research project with Massey University.

She had not expected to come across an even more endangered creature.

Hemiandrus jacinda is reddish coloured and has a body that is 5cm long, excluding the antennae.

It was named after the Prime Minister by Massey University ecologist Steven Trewick, who published an official description of it in early March.

When Stone read about the discovery, she remembered spotting a large red wētā on the track early one December morning.

“It was a cool big one, so I took a few photos then I heard a robin call out, and I got distracted,” she said.

“I didn’t think anything of it until I saw Steve’s article come out, and it looked very similar,” she said.

She sent the photos to Trewick, Palmerston North, who confirmed the insect looked like a jacinda wētā, and travelled to Taranaki for a nighttime hunt for more of them.

Read the full Taranaki Daily News article here.