HUMANS OF ŌTAUTAHI: MARIA
“It started about nine years ago alongside my kids. There was a swan plant at our playcentre, and I thought it was amazing; anyone could purchase a plant and see this miraculous life cycle of a butterfly happening in their own garden.
“I realised how much joy, wonderment and magic my children got out of it. It was a bonding time we shared. I love encouraging children to spend time in nature. It’s important for their mental health and learning.
“My interest piqued, and I was reading more about monarchs and detailing my experiences in a collection of beautiful, detailed photographs. With my expanded knowledge, research, and photos I thought, ‘I’m going to write a book’.
I created my book in about three months! Before it got printed, school mums started telling their kindergartens about me.
“I had no public speaking background, but decided to face my fear, and turn up and talk. No one ever feels ready but it starts with a ‘yes’ – it was a natural step for me to share my passion and knowledge, and I now love doing what I do.
“I know I’m making a difference, and the kids soak it all in. It evolved really quickly with dedication and love.
“Word of my work has spread organically, and now I’m so busy I’m turning school bookings away! This has now grown into a nationwide project, as I’m getting bookings from around the country. The life cycle of the monarch butterfly gives us hope that we can change. I grew up in London, where I felt limited making a genuine impact on our Earth.
“Individuals can make change, just like the caterpillar changes into a beautiful butterfly. Personally, I’ve been changed too.
I love my job. It doesn’t feel like work!”