A trip to remote Tokelau: Life a few metres above sea level

Aerial view of Atafu atoll

The Pacific island nation of Tokelau is one of the most remote places on the planet, and, with the entire country sitting metres above sea level, one of the most under threat from climate change. Media creator Kate Whitley describes the journey to this vulnerable ‘necklace of small islands’. In November 2017 a small group… Read more »

Cigarette packets and chocolate boxes: How we used to store our collections

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Storing collections in the right space and environment is incredibly important in museums – so would you be surprised to see natural history specimens stored in colourful vintage cigarette packets? Curator Alan Tennyson and conservator Robert Clendon shed light on past practice. Modern museum storage involves rows and rows of uniform beige and grey boxes,… Read more »

Te reo Kiwi: Are you using Māori every day?

  • Te Papa
  • Fridge
  • Weaving family together
  • Manu

Te Papa is always looking for creative ways to promote te reo Māori. What are some of the ways we’re doing that? How’s the whānau? What’s your favourite kai? Can you count to tekau? Some New Zealanders use Māori kupu in everyday conversation, dropping Māori words into English. If that’s you, then you’re talking what… Read more »

A plastered pastoral for Christmas

  • Pan and Syrinx
*oil on panel
*40,3 x 61 cm
*ca 1617
  • Studies of nose mouth
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  • Ribera nativity

Dr Mark Stocker, Curator Historical International Art, looks at a remarkable print of drunken excess in the collection by 17th century Spanish artist Jusepe de Ribera. In my previous Christmas blogs, I have focused on art works that emphasise the spiritual: Madonna and Child and Adoration themes in Te Papa’s collection, New Zealand’s early ‘Old… Read more »

‘It’s the objects that sparkle, not me’: A day in the life of an art collection manager

Anna Brookes in the art storerooms

Museum jobs are hugely varied and there are hundreds of us who work behind the scenes caring for collection objects and getting exhibitions ready. One of these roles is undertaken by our collection managers. Art collection manager Anna Brookes shares with us what she gets up to day to day and her tips for getting into… Read more »

Ancient colossal penguin bones discovered in Otago

  • Alan shows the location of the found bones on a to-size drawing of the penguin
  • Alan and his mum Bice looking at the penguin bones
  • Penguin illustration Tess Cole
  • S 045877 Fossil penguin vs Emperor Penguin scaled 4000px

What do you do when you discover what is possibly the largest penguin ever? You name it after your mum. This is what Curator Vertebrates Alan Tennyson – who has a paper on the discovery out today – did. The emperor penguin is a truly impressive mound of bird but it would have been relatively small in comparison… Read more »

Collecting the spirit of Hawai‘i through aloha shirts

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  • Kealopiko's Pua Aloalo shirt. Te Papa.
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New Zealand and Pacific collections intern Sonya Withers and history curator Claire Regnault recently travelled to Hawai‘i where they collected 83 aloha shirts with a focus on indigenous Hawaiian designers. Claire Regnault reflects on the connection these designers have with their natural environment and how this inspires their designs. Why aloha shirts? In October, Sonya Withers… Read more »

Cross-pollination experiments with one of New Zealand’s rarest trees

Bartlett's rātā

When an incredibly rare native tree – the Bartlett’s rātā – flowered for the first time in a quarter-century, Botany curator Carlos Lehnebach was ready with his tweezers. Bartlett’s rātā is one of the most threatened trees in New Zealand. It’s also one of our rarest species, with only 13 trees left in the wild… Read more »

Further flax weevil finds from farthest Fiordland

  • Flax weevil on Round Island, Preservation Inlet. Photo by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa
  • Southern Winds in Cascade Basin at the head of Long Sound. Photo by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa
  • Flax weevil larvae, Preservation Inlet, November 2017. Photo by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa
  • Sites where flax weevil feeding sign was noted in Chalky and Preservation Inlets in November 2017. Red arrows show islands where live flax weevils were found. Map based on NatureWatch sightings contributed by the Te Papa and DOC team.

Until 2016, flax weevils (large flightless protected beetles) were known from a single island in Fiordland. Recent surveys by Te Papa and Department of Conservation staff have now found evidence of them on a further 56 Fiordland islands. Here, Te Papa scientist Dr Colin Miskelly reports on the latest findings from remote southern Fiordland. What… Read more »