Napier National Aquarium of New Zealand's sole tuatara is getting new guardians.
As part of the aquarium's renewal of its licence to keep 35-year-old Alfie, the Department of Conservation is requiring iwi involvement.
Aquarium general manager Rachel Haydon said tuatara whakapapa to South Island iwi Ngāti Koata.
"For us it's just an exciting opportunity to learn from iwi, learn about their narratives of the tuatara, that we can include in our storytelling onsite and make it interesting for our visitors."
General curator Joe Woolcot said Alfie has shown no sign of stress after outliving the aquarium's other tuatara. Any new tuatara would have to be introduced carefully.
"We have a permit to hold up to four tuatara in that space.
"What we need to be very careful of when putting any additional animals into that space is that how they interact with Alfie is very well-considered.
"There can be factors such as the age and gender of those species that would influence those decisions."
He said Alfie played an important role at the aquarium.
"He is basically an ambassador for his species, as a national taonga that not many people will get a chance to see in the wild.
"Being able to show the tuatara to our visitors gives us an opportunity to tell the stories of this individual and the conservation factors around the survival of these animals in the wild."
Ngāti Koata has proposed Hawke's Bay's Ngāti Parau act as its agent for Alfie. His day-to-day care remains with the National Aquarium.
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