Local firm wins bid for specialist tuatara enclosure

The Invercargill branch of Calder Stewart has been awarded the contract to construct a new tuatara enclosure within the animal reserve at Queens Park.

The enclosure is part of Project 1225, which will also see a brand-new museum, Te Unua Museum of Southland, built in Invercargill, along with a museum collection storage facility constructed at Tisbury.

Invercargill City Council Programme Director Lee Butcher said the final two contractors shortlisted for the specialist tuatara enclosure build were both based in Southland.

“The calibre of bids received for the project was really strong, which made the process of selecting the successful tender a very tight contest. Local companies have certainly put their best foot forward to work on the programme. We do want to thank all of the contractors who have been involved in Project 1225 bids – we know the effort that goes into these, and it is certainly acknowledged by Invercargill City Council,” he said.

Calder Stewart would begin physical work at the site next month, he said.

“We are really pleased to be working with a local firm to bring this project to life. We know our community is very much looking forward to seeing the tuatara once more, and getting the build underway is a big milestone.”

The tuatara were moved out of their former enclosure within the now-closed Southland Museum and Art Gallery in February. In June, Christchurch-based firm Studio4 – which had created the Great Ape Centre at Orana Park – came on board to design the new tuatara facility, which will be located in the animal reserve near the playground car park.

Concept plans for the facility were released in July. They detailed nine separate areas that have the capacity to house up to 21 tuatara, and an attached staff building that includes space for a bug station, hospital pen, and working space for Living Species Officers, Butcher said.

Council Group Manager – Infrastructure Erin Moogan said she was looking forward to seeing the build get underway.

“Tuatara have long been associated with our city, and they are seen by many as an important part of the Invercargill and Southland story. We are incredibly proud to be creating a home that mimics their natural habitat as closely as possible,” she said.

Council did not own the tuatara, but considered its role as their kaitiaki a privilege. Council had worked closely with iwi – Ngāti Koata, Te Atiawa, and Ngāi Tahu – as well as Wellington Zoo and the Department of Conservation to ensure a best-for-species approach was followed throughout the project, she said.

“We’re really pleased to have Calder Stewart on board, and I know our community will be excited to hear we are one step closer to welcoming the tuatara home.”

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