Interislander - Cook Strait Ferries

Mana Whenua visit mokomoko relocation site

Mana Whenua partner Taranaki Whānui visited the eastern side of Kaiwharawhara Point recently to check out the conservation strip where mokomoko (lizards) have been relocated to keep them safe during redeveloment of the Interislander ferry terminal precinc


26 May 2023

They were accompanied by members of the iReX project team and a lizard expert from Zealandia and Victoria University.

"We will be involved in the monitoring of the relocation site over the next few years to ensure the mokomoko have adapted to their new habitat," says Lee Rauhina-August - spokesperson for Taranaki Whānui.

"This visit was to discuss what we should be observing, for example hiding places and food sources, and in terms of biodiversity, what is the right thing for us to do as Mana Whenua". 

About 100 mokomoko living across Kaiwharawhara Point were relocated to the safe, fenced area on the conservation strip last year before construction work started. While this mokomoko species - Northern grass skinks (photo below) - isn't threatened, all Aotearoa's native species are protected, and the relocation was carried out in line with a Mana Whenua, Department of Conservation, and Greater Wellington Regional Council approved Lizard Management Plan. 

“Taranaki Whānui have actively translocated mokomoko across Te Whanganui-a-Tara for many years. Working in partnerhsip with hapū/whānau and DOC to protect these taonga from the impacts of development in our region is an important task for our iwi,” explains Lee.

The group included Joe Buchanan of Taranaki Whānui, who is helping lead Taranaki Whānui’s monitoring programme.

“Joe came forward after we reached out to members who had the passion, experience and expertise to be involved in the mokomoko monitoring, and help ensure the project realises and maintains the aspirations of Taranaki Whānui. We want to be involved in the monitoring, and provide good information about these mokomoko. The opportunity to tell the story of these mokomoko and continue to grow our capacity to lead these discussions is an important outcome for us.”

“We will be involved in the monitoring of the relocation site over the next few years to ensure the mokomoko have adapted to their new habitat”

Lee says this monitoring work complements what Taranaki Whānui is doing as part of the iReX project to retstore and enhance Kaiwharawhara estuary, which is a culturally significant site.

At the end of construction, the fence will be removed to allow the mokomoko to disperse naturally into the new plants, which will be created as part of the terminal redevelopment, a KiwiRail project in partnership with Te Whanganui-a-Tara Mana Whenua Taranaki Whānui and Ngāti Toa Rangatira, and CentrePort Wellington.

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A Northern Grass Skink