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Meet The Locals at Wellington Zoo

Meet The Locals He Tuku Aroha opening Saturday 24 October at Wellington Zoo

Visitors can spot Wellington Zoo’s Kororā Little Blue Penguins in Meet the Locals He Tuku Aroha from Saturday 24 October onwards

Wellington Zoo’s newest experience is set to open to visitors this Labour Weekend, with a full three days of celebration. Meet the Locals He Tuku Aroha, the new precinct, is Wellington Zoo’s love story to Aotearoa New Zealand.

Celebrating native wildlife, domesticated locals and our amazing unique environment, Meet the Locals He Tuku Aroha will house a variety of animals including Kororā Little Blue Penguins, Sheep, Kunekune pigs, bees, eels, Grand and Otago Skinks, Maud Island Frogs and Kea.

‘Meet the Locals He Tuku Aroha is a journey through New Zealand, going from the coast to the farm through the bush and culminating in the mountains,’ said Karen Fifield, Wellington Zoo’s Chief Executive. ‘Meet the Locals He Tuku Aroha is a celebration of our country, our animals and our people.’

‘We’re re-opening a large part of the Zoo that visitors haven’t been able to access for some time, and we’re thrilled that we can do it with Meet the Locals He Tuku Aroha, which has been a labour of love for our Zoo team.’

‘Meet the Locals He Tuku Aroha is the final project of our ten year redevelopment plan, during which time we have rebuilt most of the Zoo. The transformation to a new Zoo is not only physical, but also experiential. Our innovative visitor experience, excellent animal care, global and local conservation and world leading sustainability work have been the key ingredients to our success over the last ten years.

‘We are a world class, award winning Zoo, and the people of Wellington should be proud of what we have achieved together,’ says Karen.

‘Meet the Locals He Tuku Aroha is unlike anything I’ve experienced in a Zoo before,’ says General Manager Community Engagement Amy Hughes.

‘We’ve actually ended up building four habitats in one precinct, which has kept us busy! We wanted each area to have a distinct look and feel, but for all of it to feel connected, just like the different parts of New Zealand connect together.’

‘We start with a new home for our Kororā Little Blue Penguins, and then move into our farm area with sheep, Kunekune pigs, bees, rabbits, chickens and eels. We’re also going to have gardens that visitors can help us plant and harvest. Our Zoo team have all become bee crazy over the last couple of weeks and we can’t wait to start sharing their amazing stories with our visitors!’

‘We’ve designed a whole area around regenerating bush in which we have planted 4,000 native plants to attract the native wildlife which live in the Zoo environs. There’s also a load of nature play opportunities in the bush, including a ‘worm tunnel’ and a slide, which regular Zoo visitors have seen taking shape over the last couple of months.’

‘Our experience is based around five voices woven throughout the space. We have the Zoo voice and animal voice, and we have also interviewed community members and children so they can express how they feel about our unique environment. The iwi voice is represented by beautiful Pou Korero, designed by local artist Ngataiharuru Taepa.’

The opening of Meet the Locals He Tuku Aroha will be celebrated with a bumper Aotearoa New Zealand themed opening weekend over the three days of Labour Weekend, with a host of talks and activities.

Meet the Locals He Tuku Aroha was made possible thanks to the generous support of our principal funder Wellington City Council, and other organisations who have supported us including Pub Charity, the Lotteries Grants Board, Stout Trust, Wellington Community Trust, the Infinity Foundation and the Lion Foundation.


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