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New tuatara enclosure site blessed | #childpredator | #onlinepredator | #sextrafficing

The site of Invercargill’s new tuatara enclosure was blessed on Friday before construction begins later this month.

Located in the Queens Park animal reserve, the $700,000 facility will include nine separate areas with the capacity to house 21 tuatara, and an attached staff building that includes space for a bug station, hospital pen and working space for living species officers.

Ngāti Koata representative Zealan Simpkins and Waihōpai Rūnaka representatives Evelyn Cook and Ra Dallas performed karakia and the blessing.

Studio 4 director Matt Sloper, who co-designed the facility, said the design took a lot of inspiration from the islands of New Zealand and the Cook Islands, and its shape was intended to resemble the spines on a tuatara.

One of the more unusual elements of designing the enclosure was ensuring it was completely predator proof.

“You can’t have any gaps bigger than 6mm … The level of protection is very high — and then also protecting them from people, so there’s quite a lot of security in the design.

“I’m proud to be involved, and looking forward to seeing it realised.”

Invercargill City Council infrastructure group manager Erin Moogan said it was a standout to have the blessing on a sunny day that showcased some of Southland’s stunning weather.

“I think the key thing about this facility for me is it’s been very much about what is right for the tuatara. Obviously, they have such a special place in Invercargill and to the community and to us. How do we make sure that we do what’s right for them?

“I also just think it’s a really awesome spot in the park for it, and for the community to come have a visit or a picnic if they want to. I really love the concept of it being an island.”

The enclosure is part of Project 1225, the city’s museum rebuild project, and is expected to be completed next April.

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