Tuatara to be moved to secure location before geotechnical work begins at museum

Invercargill residents are being invited to come and say “see you later” to Waihōpai resident tuatara Henry, and his friends, before they are moved to a temporary home to allow work to progress on the museum redevelopment project.

On Thursday 2 March, geotechnical work will begin on-site at the current museum building in preparation for the new museum rebuild as part of Invercargill City Council’s Project 1225.

Council Group Manager Leisure and Recreation Steve Gibling said there would be some noise and vibrations caused by the geotechnical work that could impact the tuatara and their wellbeing.

“Work is about to commence on the museum site where our taonga tuatara are housed, so it’s important that we protect them and move them to a new temporary home while this work is under way,” Gibling said.

“Unfortunately, this means Henry and the other tuatara will not be on display for several months as we go through the process of doing site work, moving the collection and demolishing the building.

“The excellent care for the tuatara will continue as it always has, and they will be housed in a safe and secure location. Normal welfare checks will also continue as usual to ensure they are happy and healthy.”

Council has engaged with iwi for the move of the tuatara, and they will give karakia on the day of the move.

Project 1225 Lead Councillor Nigel Skelt said the tuatara were important and loved by the Southland community and had an important connection to the museum.

“Henry will be missed while he’s taking some time out of the public eye, but we will share regular updates on how he’s going and encourage the community to pop down and say ka kite this week.

“Henry has been spotted in the front burrow for the past few weeks so hopefully everyone has the chance to spot him.”

Council’s Parks and Recreation team with rūnaka will move the tuatara on February 28.

Council Programme Director Lee Butcher said the geotechnical work involved taking ground vibration readings of the soils below the floors inside the museum, and using sensors and physical holes for soil sampling, as well as a groundwater sensor that would provide information needed for foundations and building design.

“The work aligns with our project plan and will be vital for our designers coming on board later this year in March. Getting the geotechnical information is very tricky as we balance working around the museum team, who are busy packing up the collection.”

Henry and the other tuatara can be viewed from the north-side of the museum building in their enclosure until early next week.

For more information on Project 1225, sign up for newsletter updates here: Project 1225 – Southland Museum and Art Gallery redevelopment | Invercargill City Council (icc.govt.nz)