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Ruud Kleinpaste - The Bugman

Ruud was born in Indonesia and moved with his Dutch parents to Holland when he was still very young. He rolled through the school system as a rather average student, but managed to pick up some foreign languages along the way. This, according to some people, accounts for his incomprehensible utterances.

Natural history has always been Ruud's passion: from an early age he possessed binoculars and chased birds in a wide range of habitats. After high school, Ruud enrolled at Wageningen University, where he gained an MSc honours degree in silviculture, animal ecology and conservation, while managing to travel extensively around Europe and farther afield.

During his university studies, entomology became an important hobby, although he never actually took a paper in the subject: a hobby is much better than a job!

In 1978 Ruud migrated to New Zealand, where he was appointed scientific advisor for the Nature Conservation Council (Wellington), before moving to DSIR Entomology Division (Mt Albert Research Centre) and, later, joining the New Zealand Forest Service on an 18 month contract to study the ecology of the brown kiwi in Waitangi State Forest.

From 1982 to 1996, Ruud was employed as entomologist with MAF in Auckland, working on a huge number of subjects, ranging from aircraft disinsection research, pest identification and control, to biosecurity issues. At that time, MAF was a medium-secure institution, allowing entomo-hobbyist to be integrated into the community under supervision.

But it became apparent that the plight of creepy crawlies needed an advocate: in 1987 "the Bugman" was born in the shape of a talkback show (Ruud's Awakening) on Newstalk ZB, a number one-rating program that has continued in various formats over the past 17 years.

Since 1988, regular columns and articles in newspapers and magazines (Auckland Star, NZ Listener, Your Home & Garden, Growing Today, etc.) have been keeping New Zealanders up-to-date with all those small invertebrate animals we share our planet with. Ruud's book Scratching for a Living was published in 1997, and because it is out of print, it can now only be stolen from a reputable library.

Television has been part of the Bugman's life since 1990; he worked on TV3's Early Bird Show", presented many items for the kid's show What Now? and the New Zealand Today Show, and narrated a four part docu-drama (The Enduring Land) on the history of farming in New Zealand, which was broadcast on TVNZ.

From 1992 till the end of the program in December 2003, Ruud has been part of the presenters team of Maggie's Garden Show, a job that has taken him right around the country, Australia and the Pacific, and even back to his home country, the Netherlands.

More recently, he has been appearing as entomologist on Animal Planet/Discovery programs and has regularly contributed segments for Good Morning (TVNZ). His documentary, The Bughouse, screened on TV ONE in August 2001, and in 2003/2004 activities have centred around an international program, The World's Biggest and Baddest Bugs, filmed in High Definition format for Discovery Channel and Animal Planet. This is now taken a step further as he's fronting a series of shows for Animal Planet called Buggin' with Ruud.

For many years, Ruud has been lecturing Plant Protection at UNITEC, in an attempt to encourage common-sense growing practices amongst the future horticulturists of New Zealand. The sub-title of the course is: "How to murder your plants more slowly". He is also a trustee of Project Crimson, the Little Barrier Island Supporters Trust, Bank of New Zealand Kiwi Recovery Trust and the Zoo Charitable Trust, as well as patron of Keep New Zealand Beautiful. He served on Auckland's Zoo Enterprise Board from 1989 to 1998 as a co-opted member.

Ruud lives in Auckland with his wife Julie and son Tristan, and when he is not lecturing or working on media projects, he does research, or works as a consulting entomologist for Government Departments and private companies, or he prepares a new destination for the next eco-tour he wants to lead. He loves nature, ecology and invertebrates so much that he goes out of his way to find little bits of paradise all over the world; while constantly striving to change people's perceptions about the small things in life that matter so much to our world!