ABOUT 80 of Invercargill’s iconic tuatara will be released on two islands in the Marlborough Sounds next year.
Southland Museum & Art Gallery (SMAG) manager David Luoni said last week during the trust board meeting the translocation plan for the tuatara was scheduled for autumn 2020.
However, Mr Luoni highlighted the translocation was the “precursor to Department of Conservation granting its new permit under the Wildlife Act and to the establishment of the inter iwi Memorandum of Understanding”.
In a statement, board chairwomen Toni Biddle said the popular and famous Henry, Mildred and Lucy were expected to stay at the tuatarium at the Invercargill pyramid under the care of SMAG tuatara curator Lindsay Hazley.
The SMAG trust board applied earlier this year to renew its permit under the Wildlife Act to hold 20 tuatara, with the remainder being released to two islands in the Marlborough Sounds, within Ngati Koata’s boundaries.
Mrs Biddle said the boards cared for 105 tuatara, a number considerably more than required.
She stressed they were moving to a new bicultural model for holding tuatara.
“This is to recognise tuatara’s status as living taonga and their significance to iwi; especially to Ngai Koata and Ngai Tahu.”
Mr Hazley said the release of tuatara to the wild was a mark of the ultimate success of the museum’s breeding programme.
it’s absolutely brilliant, it’s the ultimate of all my work, the pinnacle of our programme.
“The new phase we’re heading into is bringing fantastic opportunities, with the recognition of iwi as kaitiaki (guardians) finally coming to fruition, partnerships are being established.
“Ensuring we are working together is future-proofing the programme as well. I need to pass on my knowledge to the next generation.