When the Australian Baseball League starts its 2018-2019 season this November, the league will feature its first Kiwi team, the Auckland Tuatara. Since the inception of its current iteration in 2009, the ABL has included six teams, all of them within that nation’s boundaries. The inclusion of a team across the 1,200-mile-wide Tasman Sea in New Zealand expands the scope of the league.
The Tuatara, who will play in New Zealand’s largest city, are named for an important reptile unique to the island nation (two islands, actually). Its name means “peaks on the back” in the language of the indigenous Māori people, and the species is part of the Hauraki Gulf Islands conservation program in Auckland. As with many species endemic to New Zealand, invasive species have posed a threat, and conservation efforts are critical.
“We are celebrating the resilience of the Tuatara as our oldest surviving species,” said Auckland Tuatara board member Brett O’Riley, quoted on the league’s website. “We want the team to mirror those qualities on the diamond.”
The Tuatara will make their debut November 15, along with a (kind of) second international expansion team, a Korean team based in Geelong, Australia, which has yet to release its nickname or branding.