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Tuatara Officially Welcomed To New Home Te Moutere – Tuatara Island

Invercargill's highly anticipated new tuatara enclosure was formally opened today, ahead of the public opening party on Saturday.

Mana whenua presented the gifted name Te Moutere – Tuatara Island at the formal opening ceremony attended by representatives from Ngāti Koata and Te Ātiawa, Department of Conservation, key stakeholders, Invercargill City Councillors and staff.

Invercargill City Council Parks Performance Manager Kate Gough said Te Moutere referenced the tuatara's ancestral homelands of two isolated islands at the top of Te Waipounamu/South Island.

"The new enclosure is a place where the tuatara can truly thrive," Gough said.

"The process we have undertaken to develop this facility has been a wonderful experience in strengthening our relationships with our key iwi partners. It has involved our Council teams and Department of Conservation working alongside Ngāti Koata, Te Ātiawa and mana whenua, and it is fantastic to see representatives from all of these parties here today.”

Councillor Grant Dermody officially opened the facility acknowledging the appeal the new enclosure will have for both locals and visitors.

"The facility is set to become an exceptional asset for Southland and the tuatara are an important taonga for the city and this facility enhances our guardianship of them," he said.

"We are creating assets that are not only engaging experiences for locals to be proud of but also attractions for visitors coming to our region and staying here to explore."

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Attendees at the event were making the most of the enclosure's expansive viewing windows to spot the tuatara enjoying their new home.

"The enclosure has been thoughtfully designed to encourage natural behaviour such as climbing, basking and digging. It includes a hospital bed for specialist care and burrows for the tuatara to retreat to," Gough said.

Christchurch-based architectural firm Studio4 was responsible for the design of the building and the Invercargill branch of Calder Stewart brought the structure to life, working alongside the Council's Parks and Projects teams.

There will be a free opening celebration on Saturday 8 June for Southlanders to come and see the enclosure and welcome Henry, Mildred and the tuatara whānau to their new home.

Henry's Housewarming will run from 10am to 1pm at the new tuatara facility in Queens Park. The day will feature tuatara talks, prizes, rock-hunting adventures, face painting and a sausage sizzle.

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