Architects chosen to design new tuatara facility in Queens Park

Invercargill’s precious tuatara will join one of Queens Park’s most beloved attractions: with Henry and friends set to make their new home in the animal reserve.

The construction of a new tuatara enclosure is part of the city’s museum redevelopment, dubbed Project 1225.

The project will also see the existing museum demolished and a new museum built at the same location in Queens Park, as well as the construction of a new museum collection storage facility at Tisbury.

In February, the decision was made to move the tuatara out of their home in the existing museum to a temporary site until their new enclosure was ready. Noise and vibrations from geotechnical work on-site had the potential to negatively impact the tuatara and their wellbeing.

Invercargill City Council Mana Whenua Representative Evelyn Cook said the new enclosure would ensure the tuatara’s rich legacy in the rohe continued.

“Tuatara are a taonga and their presence in Waihōpai provides us with an opportunity to understand their importance in Aotearoa New Zealand as a remnant of a bygone age.

“It is a privilege to care for them and provide them with the best living area possible,” she said.

Council’s Programme Director Lee Butcher said Council was excited to announce the location of the new 109m2 tuatara enclosure at the animal reserve at Queens Park. It will be housed near the entrance to the playground car park.

The new location would connect the tuatara with other animals that call Queens Park home,
he said. “Housing the tuatara in a space where generations of Southlanders can continue their connection with them is really important to our community,” he said.

Christchurch-based firm Studio 4 had been chosen to design the new facility.

“I have absolute faith that Studio 4 and its consultants are the right team to design the perfect home for our tuatara, given the work they have already done for Christchurch’s precious gorillas at the Great Ape Centre in Orana Park. An enclosure of this calibre will be the first in the South Island and likely even Aotearoa.”

Studio 4 directors Julian O’Sullivan and Matt Sloper said they were familiar with Invercargill and the south, having already assisted in the design and delivery of the award-winning Te Puka o Te Waka Rakiura Museum on Stewart Island.

“We are excited to be involved in this project of national significance and we are looking forward to creating a safe and secure home for the tuatara as well as a visitor experience the people of Invercargill and Southland can be proud of.”

Manager Parks Performance Kate Gough said it was crucial to provide safe living spaces for animals and to follow animal husbandry guidelines. Part of the reason Studio 4 was chosen for the project was because of the firm’s experience in designing specialist enclosures to keep animals safe and protected, she said.

“The new location within the animal reserve will provide the best way to look after the tuatara, and will be as close to their natural habitat as possible,” she said.

“We are really excited that Henry and his friends will be joining another part of Queens Park that families enjoy spending time in, and we can’t wait to welcome them to their new home.”

The first concept designs for the facility are expected to be available in July.

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