The Weta of New Zealand


Morphology The purpose of this page is to give people a better understanding of this national treasure in the hope that we may be able to preserve them for future generations of New Zealanders to appreciate.  This page was written as an assignment for a Waikato University Advanced Zoology paper.

The weta is an amazing insect, found not just in New Zealand but also in South Africa, Australia, and South America. Although not unique to New Zealand, the weta is found here in its largest forms. Here it is able to grow lengths of up to 90mm and weighs up to 70grams.  The weta exists in almost every habitat that New Zealand has to offer, from the warm sandy climates of Northland to the alpine environments of the Southern Alps, displaying true diversity.

Weta is strictly a New Zealand name that derives from the Maori name of wetapunga that was given to the giant weta. Wetapunga translates roughly to "God of ugly things". Other Maori names, tokoriro and putangatanga, have been applied to the Auckland tree weta that is found throughout the northern and central parts of the North Island (Gibbs, 1998).

The wetapunga, now found only on Little Barrier Island, off the Coromandel Peninsula of New Zealand's North Island, once inhabited much of the upper North Island. The introduction of rats and stoats has been to the detriment of our giant weta as well as our native birds. Our giant weta now remain only on protected islands or high in the mountains where the rats cannot reach them. Some of the more agile hole-dwelling weta have beaten the odds and survived despite the predators (Gibbs, 1994)


The Cook Strait giant weta, photographed by Brian Eting.




References & Links

Created By David Prout ID#9765710            Advanced Zoology  University of Waikato


Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions that I may be able to help with.