Peripatus fans (front) Department of Conservation
conservation services manager David Agnew (left) and New
Zealand Transport Agency project manager Simon Underwood
look at a new resource dedicated to the worm with others
involved in the project (from left) Rod Morris, Mike
Wakelin, Tony Clough, Hoani Langsbury, Dolina Lee, and Prof
Sir Alan Mark, at the Caversham Reserve, home to the worms.
Photo: Craig Baxter
The ancient peripatus or velvet worm, needs cold, damp,
dark places to live.
So it made perfect sense to hold a function in its honour in
a cold, dark place - underground in the Athenaeum in the
Octagon with a craft beer named after it on hand and
conservation educator Tahu Mackenzie dressed as a peripatus.
The occasion was the launch of the booklet New Zealand
peripatus which outlines the available knowledge of the
invertebrate, its conservation and future research needs.
It was the culmination of a project which started when it was
agreed the Caversham Valley population of worms needed to be
moved due to the state highway improvements. The New Zealand
Transport Agency had them moved to an area nearby.
The NZTA also provided funds to the Department of
Conservation to produce the booklet.
A working group was set up with representatives from Ngai
Tahu, Forest and Bird, the Dunedin City Council and
landowners to help create the booklet.
Dunedin photographer Rod Morris provided the photographs,
while nearby resident Dave Randle provided his experience and
knowledge of the species.
Prof Sir Alan Mark, who wrote the foreword, told those at the
launch the booklet was a very important milestone for Doc and
for Dunedin city.
It was well published, well presented and very informative
and would have wide appeal.
Both he and NZTA project manager Simon Underwood made special
mention of Mr Randle, whom they described as ‘‘champion of
the cause'' for his efforts to have the worms protected.
Mr Underwood said finding the peripatus was initially ‘‘one
of those little surprises you wish you didn't have'' in a
roading project, but he quickly came to see the opportunity
for ecological gain it presented.
NZTA would also publish a monitoring report at the end of the
roading project updating how the worms were faring in their