Movembering Dr Hassell and his magnficient mo

Bust portrait of a middle aged man, holding a walking stick in his left hand. He has blue eyes, a ruddy complexion and an abundant ginger moustache that extends beyond the side of his face.

Rebecca Rice, Curator Historical New Zealand Art, explores a mystery behind Dr Gray Hassell’s magnificent moustache. There are two main reasons I feel an affinity with Dr Gray Hassell. Firstly, he was born in Oamaru, also my hometown, in 1860. Secondly, well, that moustache. In my childhood, my father sported a similarly magnificent mo. So… Read more »

Five things you never knew about Rodin

Rodin walking dogs

Art curator Mark Stocker highlights five fascinating facts you probably didn’t know about the great French sculptor Auguste Rodin. Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) enjoyed a 20-year reign until the end of his life as the world’s most famous artist  – not just sculptor. To commemorate the 100th anniversary of his death, I am giving a public lecture on… Read more »

A new fungus for New Zealand discovered in Wellington’s Mount Vic

Battarrea phalloides in Wellington.

You don’t have to be in the wilderness to make biodiversity discoveries. One of our scientists, Lara Shepherd, recently made an exciting find whilst walking home from work. Earlier this year I was walking through Wellington’s Mount Victoria when I saw a very odd looking mushroom. It looked a bit like a like a puffball… Read more »

Remembering a national icon: Dame Margaret Karika Ariki (1919–2017)

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Pacific Collection Manager Grace Hutton pays tribute to Cook Islands tribal leader Dame Margaret Karika Ariki. In 1996 while working at Te Papa I flew to Rarotonga in the Cook Islands to talk with Dame Margaret about her father, Makea Karika Pa George, D.C.M. I wanted to record an interview with her to find out… Read more »

Martinborough’s cave of bones: How thousands of flightless birds met their end

Adzebill skulls

Fossilised bird grave sites are common in New Zealand, but one particular cave in Martinborough has revealed thousands of bones of flightless birds who plunged to their deaths. Curator of vertebrates Alan Tennyson describes how over thousands of years rare and extinct birds such kakapo, kiwi, North Island takahe, and moa fell through the concealed… Read more »

Accidentally spooky: Photographs from Te Papa’s collections perfect for Halloween

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Happy Halloween! Curator Historical Photography Lissa Mitchell gets into the spirit of the occasion with a selection of frightfully fantastic photographs where not all is as it seems. Taking a photograph of someone can be a tricky business even for professional photographers. In the 19th century a certain kind of mistake created a new category… Read more »

‘I feel his presence in these images’: The photographs of George Crombie

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Working in a museum is filled with unexpected discoveries – especially when you’re looking at photographs from 100 years ago. Collections Data Technician Gareth Watkins uncovers the life of an avid photographer whose photographs offered something different from the norm. These tender and idyllic images were captured by Dunedin-based photographer George Pye Crombie around 1912. They feature women – most… Read more »

New Zealand’s weirdest mosquitoes: The impatient males

The fore tarsal claw of the adult male mosquito to grab onto the female pupa. Credit: Julia Kasper

Curator Terrestrial Invertebrates Julia Kasper looks at the reproductive lives of our local mosquitoes. The salt pool mosquito (Opifex fuscus) can just be found in New Zealand and it is our only rock pool mosquito. From an evolutionary perspective they show quite ancient mosquito characteristics. They look stout, have a short proboscis (snout), and short… Read more »

Fate of the Berry Boys and the ‘disastrous fiasco’ of Passchendaele

  • El Mariscal de Campo Sir Douglas Haig, circa 1918, Spain, by Francis Dodd. Te Papa (CA000316/001/0017/0001)
  • Three portraits each on one negative of William Horace James and Gertrude Miriam James., 1915, Wellington, by William Berry. Purchased 1998 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds. Te Papa (B.045525)
  • Portrait of Francis Edward Beaufort, 1917, Wellington, by William Berry. Purchased 1998 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds. Te Papa (B.045050)
  • Portrait of Harry Luckman with Ellen Luckman and baby Harry George Luckman, 1917, Wellington, by William Berry. Purchased 1998 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds. Te Papa (B.043586)

The death of over 840 troops over a single day during the Battle of Passchendaele, compounded by a further 1,860 wounded, was a low point in New Zealand’s military contribution to WWI, 100 years ago today. History curator Kirstie Ross outlines the impact of the battle on seven New Zealand soldiers, all of whom were photographed… Read more »