Another extinct bird: New Zealand’s prehistoric swan

Cygnus chathamensis skeleton

Curator of vertebrates, Alan Tennyson, discusses new findings published today that New Zealand and the Chatham Islands had their own unique prehistoric swan.  Black swans (Cygnus atratus) are a common and prominent part of New Zealand’s wetland fauna today – but have they always been here, or are they recent invaders? For many decades it has been unclear… Read more »

Hei maumaharatanga: Cliff Whiting – Artist, Educator, Rangatira

Man carves

Tena koutou i o tatou tini mate koutou kua wheturangitia ki te korowai o Ranginui koutou kua wehe atu ki te po ki te tua o Te Arai ki te okiokinga i o tatou tupuna haere, haere, haere When I spoke to a cousin of mine about Cliff Whiting’s recent passing, she talked about the… Read more »

Cliff Whiting: Visionary, innovator, tōhunga, teacher, scholar, master artist

Man stands in foreground with marae in the background

It is with enormous sadness that Te Papa acknowledges the passing of Cliff Whiting (6 May 1936–16 July 2017). His contribution to Te Papa and the arts in Aotearoa was immeasurable. An esteemed teacher and practitioner of Māori arts, Cliff was appointed Director Director Bicultural Relations for the Museum of New Zealand in 1993, and… Read more »

Buongiorno! Ecco l’arte italiana! Italian Art at Te Papa

Marco Ricci

Ciao a tutti! Dr Mark Stocker, Curator Historical International Art, takes a look at some of the fascinating and beautiful Italian art that’s in Te Papa’s collection. Marco’s journey takes us from Venice to Naples, and through 300 years of history. Andiamo – let’s go! I need zero excuses to explore and celebrate historical Italian art… Read more »

Meeting a man I will never know: Jonathan Mane-Wheoki

Ruby stands with some boxes in Te Papa's archives

Ruby Abraham, a Museum and Heritage Studies student at Victoria University, has spent the last 5 weeks on placement at Te Papa working intimately with the archive donated by Jonathan Mane-Wheoki (1943-2014). She explains how she’s got to know Jonathan (and the Ke Emu database) through processing and cataloguing his archive. When I began my placement at Te… Read more »

Putting the pieces back together after the earthquake

A lady in a white lab coat paints a canoe prow

On 14 Nov 2016 an earthquake registering 7.8 on the Richter scale shook Wellington awake. All-in-all Te Papa’s buildings and its collection were virtually unscathed. Out of over two million collection objects, only nine were damaged. One of the damaged objects was a plaster cast replica of an 18th century tauihu (canoe prow). Charlotte Jimenez,… Read more »

Old new money: New Zealand’s decimal currency turns 50

Practice money, $1 note, 1967, New Zealand, by Decimal Currency Board. Te Papa (GH023090/8)

History curator Kirstie Ross looks back 50 years to July 1967 when the contents of New Zealanders’ pockets and purses changed radically after the country shifted from pounds, shillings, and pence – to dollars and cents. Going decimal In 1963, the government decided that the country would decimalise its currency. Wellingtonian James Berry designed the decimal… Read more »

A little mystery – ‘The Sisters’ and the cabinet card photograph

Morris

Lissa Mitchell, Curator Historical Photography uses her detective skills to uncover the full story behind a late-1880s photograph. In the photography collection there is a large cabinet card photograph (above) with the torn remains of a newspaper article attached to the back. Using words from the remaining text as search terms on Paper Past I was able… Read more »

Award-winning garments from the rag pile

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  • 1780s-style dress pieced together from an unpicked 1730s dress. Te Papa (PC002687)
  • Opera cape made in the 1920s from a 1910s skirt. Te Papa  (PC003668)

Before you throw out your tired bits of clothing, consider giving them new life through upcycling. Senior history curator Claire Regnault highlights a collection of garments acquired by Te Papa in 2015 that are made from material originally destined for landfill. Recently I attended an illustrated talk by Beth Brown-Reinsel, an American practitioner and writer who… Read more »

Remembering New Zealand artist Guy Ngan (1926-2017)

Waoku No.2

Athol McCredie, Curator of Photography, pays tribute to artist Guy Ngan, whose works adorn buildings and public spaces around the country. We note with regret that New Zealand artist Guy Ngan passed away at age 91 on Monday 26 June. Ngan is an artist whose work you probably know, even though if you are not familiar… Read more »