First there was the movie. Now, there's... the moth.
Forest and Bird and entomologist Brian Patrick want to name a new moth they discovered on the Denniston Plateau on the West Coast of the South Island after the blockbuster movie Avatar.
The name Arctesthes avatar, which still requires official approval, was chosen after they asked for public help, and they feel the name was a good fit given their opposition to a proposed open-cast mine on the Denniston Plateau.
"It's a novel name and the movie is about a mining company that threatens to devastate a human-like species that's living in harmony with nature. It's just a really good analogy," Mr Patrick said.
The moth was caught by Mr Patrick's son Hamish on a weekend in which 150 people scoured the plateau in search of unusual plants and animals in March.
Mr Patrick says there's no doubt the fast, low-flying striped moth was a new species as it was about 8 per cent genetically different than other moths.
He's finishing a paper on the discovery and will submit it, and the name, for peer review before the name is confirmed by the scientific community.
Avatar was partially made in New Zealand. The movie's director James Cameron now owns some Wairarapa farms, and plans to move his family to New Zealand.
Other new species discovered during the Denniston Plateau search are likely to include another moth, beetle, wingless wasp and three spiders.
Debs Martin of Forest and Bird says discovering the new species highlighted the plateau's ecological importance and the need to protect it from mining.
"All the scientists agree that the plateau harbours life, especially little life, that is either not known or is relatively uncommon elsewhere."