A mihi whakatau was recently held at the Zoo, where staff welcomed and acknowledged the fourteen tuatara in their care into their new home.
Named Te Hononga, the facility is an off-display habitat dedicated to tuatara.
It will provide more room and light for the reptiles, which are New Zealand’s largest.
Zoo staff were joined on the day by iwi representatives from Ngāti Koata Trust, who are kaitiaki of tuatara, and Neavin Broughton from Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika as mana whenua.
Dave Laux, Zoo Team Leader Reptiles & Invertebrates, says the name Te Hononga was gifted to the Zoo by Iwi and means connection or coming together – “a perfect name for our new facility for a species that brings so many people together”.
“Te Hononga was built so we could give our tuatara more space, more sunshine, and ensure we give these precious taonga everything they deserve.
“The day was really moving and having both representatives of Ngāti Koata and Taranaki Whānui give their blessings and provide support to the project was really special.”
While visitors won’t be able to see the tuatara in their new home in Te Hononga, you can spot a tuatara in the Zoo’s nocturnal house, The Twilight Te Ao Māhina.