Published: 14 June, 2024

A safe new home

A safe new home

We recently helped relocate 17 tuatara from their temporary whare at Tiwai to a permanent, purpose-built whare in Queens Park.

The tuatara come from both Ngā Whatu Kaipono (North Brothers Island) and Takapourewa (Stephens Island). For some of those involved, this has been a 20-year journey which has greatly strengthened the relationship between local agencies and kaitiaki from Te Ātiawa o te Waka-a-Māui as well as ahi kā from Waihōpai Rūnaka and Te Rūnaka o Awarua.

It is thought that the species of tuatara (Sphenodon guntheri) from Ngā Whatu Kaipono were taken to Victoria University in the early 1990s for sex determination experiments (Blanchard et al. – Tuatara captive management plan), and then seven were transferred to Southland Museum and Art Gallery (SMAG).The tuatara now held by ICC are from those original seven and their offspring.

As part of the trip, our Te Ātiawa representatives were involved in a mihi whakatau hosted by Evelyn Cook from Waihōpai Rūnaka and the ICC, collecting the tuatara from Tiwai and moving them to Queens Park, before finishing with kawanga whare for their new enclosure.

The new facility had its official public opening on Saturday, June 8. You can read more about it here. Our Te Ātiawa representatives feel positive about the direction ICC is taking to include the community in the care and conservation of tuatara. Our representatives will attend the public opening and it is hoped that this will be the start of A close working relationship between all those involved in safeguarding our taonga.



Project highlights:

  • Whanaungatanga – tūhonohono ki ngā rūnaka o Ngāi Tahu ki Waihōpai
  • Sustainable management of taonga – sustaining our relationship to our taonga
  • Te Ātiawatanga me kaitiakitanga - protecting the life-supporting capacity of our taonga tuku iho, fulfilling spiritual and inherited responsibilities to te Taiao, maintaining mana motuhake over our taonga, and ensuring the welfare of the people

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