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Te Wao Nui at Auckland Zoo offers unique experience of NZ

Media release
8 September 2011

Te Wao Nui at Auckland Zoo offers unique experience of New Zealand

Te Wao Nui, a $16m New Zealand precinct at Auckland Zoo offering visitors a unique experience of the country's animals, plants and culture, will be officially opened by the Mayor of Auckland Council Len Brown this Saturday at 1pm.

From midday on Sunday - a day that marks the start of Conservation Week (11 to 18 September), Aucklanders and visitors to the city will be able to explore the expansive new development that takes up a fifth of the zoo.

A celebration of New Zealand's natural world and a showcase for the zoo's conservation efforts, Te Wao Nui has has been funded by Auckland Council and through funds raised by the Auckland Zoo Charitable Trust.

"Te Wao Nui is a must-see for Aucklanders and visitors. The six new habitats are stunning examples of New Zealand wildlife and this is the latest world-class asset Auckland can be very proud of," says Mayor Len Brown.

Home to around 60 different New Zealand native animal species, over 100 native plant species and stunning Maori artworks, Te Wao Nui takes visitors on an immersive journey through six iconic New Zealand environments. These include The Coast (Takutai), The Islands (Moutere Rahui), The Wetlands (Nga Repo), The Night (Te Po), The Forest (Te Wao Nui a Tane) and The Country (Whenua Waotu).

"We are thrilled to be opening Te Wao Nui. It is the largest and most significant development in our 88-year history and one that's focused entirely on celebrating and conserving the extraordinary and unique wildlife of New Zealand. Many of our species are found nowhere else in the world, are threatened with extinction, and need the help of us all to ensure their future," says Auckland Zoo director Jonathan Wilcken.

"The zoo has been working alongside its conservation partners for years to conserve New Zealand native species. With Te Wao Nui, it's really great to be able to finally open the door on this work to our visitors and tell the stories of the amazing efforts New Zealanders have made to conserve them. Each and every one of us can play a role as kaitiaki (guardians) for our unique wildlife and wild places, and Te Wao Nui invites us all to get involved"

Auckland Zoo works with the Department of Conservation and other conservation partners on a range of species, returning animals to the wild and monitoring and protecting wild populations. Where the zoo can't help in this work directly, it helps fund the work of others. A percentage of all zoo admissions go to the Auckland Zoo Conservation Fund, set up specifically to help those working in the frontline, protecting our native animals in the wild.

Invite to media to attend opening: Media are invited to attend Auckland Zoo's official opening of Te Wao Nui at 1pm this Saturday, 10 September. Photos of Te Wao Nui and the opening are also available on request. Contact Jane Healy on 027 291 9773 and jane.healy@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz

Conservation Week (11 - 18 September)
The Department of Conservation (DOC) will be joining the Auckland Zoo to celebrate Conservation Week and the opening of Te Wao Nui. Visitors can chat with DOC staff at Te Wao Nui's conservation centre throughout Conservation Week. DOC will be showcasing the conservation work it does with the zoo and other organisations and community groups. From Monday 12 September to Wednesday 15 September, visitors to Te Wao Nui can also meet Jak one of DOC's rodent detecting dogs who work to protect islands in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park (that have been cleared of animal pests) to make them safe for endangered wildlife like kiwi and takahe.

Te Wao Nui Fast Facts
* Te Wao Nui will be home to 100 different New Zealand native plant species and around 60 native animal species (over 350 animals) - many of which are new or have never been displayed before, including the short-tailed bat, Campbell Island teal and Otago skink
* Key Te Wao Nui partners include the Department of Conservation (DOC) and Ngati Whatua o Orakei
* Large Maori artworks are an integral part of the Te Wao Nui experience. World-renowned artists Lyonel Grant (of Te Arawa), Bernard Makoare (of Te Rarawa and Ngati Whatua) and Manos Nathan (of Te Roroa, Ngati Whatua and Nga Puhi) are creating over a dozen works. Among these is Tane Nui a Rangi - a three-metre-high totara carving by Lyonel Grant that will live in Te Wao Nui's The Forest.
* The name Te Wao Nui encompasses the natural unique habitats and environment of Aotearoa New Zealand. To find out more about Te Wao Nui visit aucklandzoo.co.nz


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