Rod Morris


How the ‘moss leopard’ got its name – invertebrate ‘discovery’ stories

Rod has been telling stories about our natural history for more than four decades now. He’s been a zookeeper, a teacher, an author, and a wildlife ranger. For half of that period he was a natural-history filmmaker – producing and directing documentaries about some of our best-loved birds – kiwi, kākāpō, kōkako, kea, kakī (black stilt), and kakaruia (black robin). These days, nature photography and public speaking occupy more of his time, and his focus is on the ‘lesser known creatures’ – especially among the reptiles and invertebrates. He is concerned as well, about threatened environments like the montane coal measures on the West Coast and the Canterbury plain’s braided river systems (see link below for interview with RadioNZ). Rod’s talk at the conference is colourfully illustrated but a little eccentric. This power-point presentation documents his family’s various interactions with rare and unusual invertebrates – phasmids, wētā, flies, leaf-veined slugs, ticks, lice, giant land snails and planarians – encountered while travelling both here, and overseas. On the journey he poses a seemingly unrelated but important question: what child could possibly exist, growing up in our society without a name?

Interview with RadioNZ on the Denniston Plateau

Mercury Islands tusked wētā Motuweta isolate. Photo by R. Morris.