There's no mistaking that the Herald has come to the right house in Blockhouse Bay to meet Madam Butterfly, Jacqui Knight.
On the wall, there's that classic wooden butterfly beloved of every collector of retro Kiwiana, a letterbox painted with lepidoptera that may not exist in nature. Her front garden is in the shape of a butterfly and planted with vivid flowers, her car is plastered with more of the creatures and most of the driveway is taken up with a shade-covered butterfly house. Rows of swan plants fill the window sills and back deck.
They may be tiny creatures, but this is one big enterprise to support the Danaus plexippus.
"My son Christopher was so interested in monarch butterflies when he was 8. We wrote letters and found out about their over-wintering place in Butterfly Bay [north of Kerikeri] and went up there," she says. "Like most kids, he lost interest, but that was what got me started."
That was more than 30 years ago.
Ten years ago, Ms Knight was alarmed to learn that the bay was about to be developed, so formed the New Zealand Monarch Butterfly Trust with experienced lepidopterist Brian Patrick to protect the butterflies' habitat.
"We realised that people didn't have any understanding of New Zealand butterflies. Everyone knows the monarch, but we have 20 common butterflies and moths and they are important," she says.
"Sadly, over the past 20 years, Butterfly Bay is not an over-wintering spot as it's changed, there's no food for adults. People think 'noxious weeds' ... so there's no habitat."
One of Ms Knight's campaigns that should win friends is to encourage people to let their gardens get a little overgrown and weedy, and let clover grow through the lawns. She goes so far as to encourage stinging nettles in her own yard, as they are food for the rare and endangered Red Admiral butterfly, unique to New Zealand.
Hive collapse is causing a crisis for bees, and in a similar way butterflies are threatened by pesticides, fewer wild spaces, and plants bred for their colour or style, not nectar value.
The trust educates home gardeners and schools, noting that there are many youngsters who simply don't see common butterflies any more. Some rare species exist only in one or two remote spots.
Citizen scientists and flash mobs can be used to raise some big issues so this spring, the trust launched a sweetly low-tech way of getting people to talk about butterflies - and observe them: a Big Backyard Butterfly Count. Until November 30, people can download sheets, count the species they see in their yard, and enter the numbers in the NZ Monarch Butterfly Trust database.
This is the first year of the big count, so it will create baseline measurements of what species are where across local parks, schools, backyards and farms. Then, in following years, people will repeat their observations at the same place and time so that trends can be tracked.
One of the first recruits to the count were neighbour Carol Troy's children, Jaedyn 11, Aleesha 9, and Mikayla 5.
Starting the count this week, they've already been struck by how few butterflies they've seen in November - Mikayla has spotted a cabbage white, Jaedyn only a couple of monarchs. They're already learning an important point - that butterflies need old-fashioned coloured flowers - as they've seen heaps more insects at their nana's traditional garden in Glendene.
"We've had swan plants at our school garden," says Aleesha. "There were thousands of eggs, and a few caterpillars, but not so many butterflies. We should do the front garden with coloured flowers."
Ms Knight says the best time to do a count is from late morning to early afternoon, as that is when the butterflies are out feeding. She is not expecting good news: "Things are not good. Mexico is the biggest over-wintering spot, they have a long migration, but in New Zealand, monarchs stay local.
"What we're doing is feeding [data] into the Global Biodiversity Information Forum. Butterflies are retreating with climate change, but they can only go so far before the habitat is too hostile. They are indicators of what's happening in the rest of the environment."
Since meeting Ms Knight, I've been looking and realised how few butterflies I'd seen this year in my patch of North Shore bush. Time to download the counting sheets and start planting summer colour.
To take part in the Big Backyard Butterfly Count, go to monarch.org.nz