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Help name Otago Museum’s treasured jewelled gecko

Since returning to Otago in December after being smuggled from Otago Peninsula into Germany, the jewelled gecko – moko kākāriki has been making itself at home at the Otago Museum.

Its repatriation home via Wellington Zoo’s The Nest Te Kōhanga, where it was nursed back to health by the zoo’s expert team of veterinarians, was the result of hard work by a number of parties including Te Rūnanga o Ōtākou, Museum staff, the Department of Conservation (DOC) and Setpoint Solutions, with assistance from the University of Otago and Wellington Zoo.

Although visitors have had a few months to get to know the Museum’s latest resident in his purpose-built terrarium on Atrium Level 1, he is yet to be officially named. This is where Otago Museum staff are asking for help.

Everyone will have the opportunity to suggest a name for the gecko, and share the reasons behind their nomination, until 5pm Friday 19 May.

Along with the chance of naming him, the public will also get the final say on the winning name via a vote from 9am Monday 29 May until 12 noon Friday 23 June, choosing from the three top entries selected by a panel of Museum staff and Te Rūnanga o Ōtākou representatives.

Both entry into the competition and voting will be available on the Otago Museum website – – and at the Museum.

The winning name will be announced on Wednesday 28 June with the lucky entrant receiving a family combo pass to the Perpetual Guardian Planetarium and Discovery World Tropical Forest, a $50 voucher for both the Museum Shop and Café, and a family tour of the Museum’s galleries.

“The gecko has proved very popular with our visitors, all of whom enjoy learning about its story, lifestyle and cultural significance to local iwi,” says Sam Botting, Otago Museum’s Living Environments and Science Engagement Operations Manager.

“The final piece of the puzzle will be giving him a name – I look forward to seeing the entries!”