Okay, well...after hours of trying for keywords... And for all that can be said about ease of spelling and easy to remember, SSS, New Zealand Wildlife Collection, Science and Nature, Animals of Australia, figure, model, replica, weta, kiwi, tuatara, and pukeko, among others are not particularly great at finding more specific info. Too many outliers.
SSS has been operating since 1977. They do import various toys such as Safari Ltd, however I am unable to find further info beyond current catalogue online. A member of this forum bought a pukeko as early as 2010 and the collection of New Zealand Wildlife Collection is exclusively produced for them in china. But there are no dates listed on the tags or the figures themselves to my knowledge. I only have two of them.
Other than a debate on the animal toy forum which was inconclusive, this is the only place I found info beyond their basic site.
It might come down to Roger's elusive penguin or emailing either firm.
As for S&N, there seem to be two distribution divisions. Science and Nature Pty Ltd in Australia est. 1994 and Science and Nature Ltd in New Zealand. Online there are catalogues back to 2012 (well, 2011 if you count [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
. They have their own kiwi figure, but establishing when they started the Animals of Australia replicas is a bit beyond my current keyword searches. No date is listed on those either that I could find. I however do not have the larger figures.
Apologies, according to au.LinkedIn.com S&N's owner Nigel Kirby has been
Owner of Science and Nature Pty Ltd (Australia) since 1995
Owner of Science and Nature Ltd (New Zealand) since 2008
though later on, under experience, it says:
Independent Business Owner
Science and Nature Pty Ltd
June 1996 – Present (19 years 4 months)