Posts categorized as Research

What can kōwhai tell us about the location of New Zealand’s forests during the ice ages?

  • A flower-laded large-leaved kōwhai (Sophora tetraptera) from the Wairarapa. Photo: Leon Perrie
  • A flower-laded large-leaved kōwhai (Sophora tetraptera) from the Wairarapa.
  • Collecting genetic samples from prostrate kōwhai (Sophora prostrata) on the POrt Hills. This species is restricted to the eastern South Island and has zig-zag branches with small leaves and flowers. Photo: Leon Perrie.
  • Collecting genetic samples from prostrate kōwhai (Sophora prostrata) on the POrt Hills. This species is restricted to the eastern South Island and has zig-zag branches with small leaves and flowers. Photo: Leon Perrie.

Science researcher Lara Shepherd explores kōwhai trees, one of New Zealand’s most widely recognised native plants and our unofficial national flower. Did you realise that we actually have eight species of kōwhai in New Zealand? Our DNA research investigating the relationships of these kōwhai species and where kōwhai trees were located during the ice ages has… Read more »

The global hunt for the original wandering albatross

"Chocolate albatross" in Vienna

Vertebrate Curator Alan Tennyson explores the history of the name of the wandering albatross and the hunt for the original specimens. The wandering albatross is one of the world’s greatest ocean wanderers, with individuals circumnavigating the Southern Ocean and travelling 120,000 km in a year. These albatrosses have been among the most high-profile of seabirds ever since… Read more »

War by post and bullet

  • Issued one penny British ’Penny Black’ stamp, 1840, United Kingdom, by Charles Heath, Frederick Heath. Purchased 2004. Te Papa (PH001330)
  • Philatelic ’cover’ [envelope], 6 November 1865, Maketu, by Emily Kirby. Purchased 2001. Te Papa (PH000889)
  • Philatelic ’cover’ [envelope], 20 March 1864, Auckland, maker unknown. Purchased 2001. Te Papa (PH000914)
  • Philatelic ’cover’ [envelope], March 1864, Waikato, by Corporal John Randall. Purchased 2001. Te Papa (PH000923)

Scott Flutey, a summer scholar from Victoria University of Wellington, has just finished an Honours year in History. He dives into the world of stamps and postal history. I’m currently researching the Gerald Ellott philatelic collection at Te Papa as part of the three-year Soldiers of Empire research project, led by Professor Charlotte Macdonald and Dr Rebecca Lenihan…. Read more »

Congratulations to Pat Brownsey who has just been awarded the New Zealand Journal of Botany annual prize for 2016. In even-numbered years, this prize is for “established researchers”. This is “awarded to a person who has made a sustained contribution to the journal during the last five years (regularly publishing and reviewing papers), and whose… Read more »

DNA reveals relationships of the extinct Scarlett’s shearwater

Scarlett's Shearwater, Puffinus spelaeus, collected 18 Oct 1991, Te Ana Titi Cave, Fox River (station 131, cave metre grid -82N -98E), New Zealand. Field Collection 1986. CC BY-NC-ND licence. Te Papa (S.028002)

Research scientist Lara Shepherd and vertebrate curator Alan Tennyson look at the relationships of extinct seabird, the Scarlett’s shearwater (Puffinus speleus) in a newly published paper. New Zealand is the seabird capital of the world with more endemic seabird species than anywhere else. But before humans arrived with their exotic predators we used to have even more species…. Read more »

Confessions of a bounty hunter: Discovering New Zealand’s first fossil bug

Fossil of a march fly

Inspired by his recent visit to the exhibition Bug Lab, resident geologist Hamish Campbell recounts finding New Zealand’s first pre-Pleistocene fossil bug. A momentous occasion In October 1981 a cheque arrived in the post for the princely sum of £5, drawn on a BNZ bank account owned by Sir Charles Fleming. My father Doug Campbell… Read more »

Plague skinks invade the Coromandel

  • Marlborough green gecko (Naultinus manukanus). Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Plague skink (aka rainbow skink). Papa Aroha, January 2017. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • Copper skink (Oligosoma aeneum). Papa Aroha, January 2017. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • Shore skink (Oligosoma smithi). Papa Aroha, January 2017. Image: Colin Miskelly

In my previous blog I listed four Australian bird species that have colonised the Coromandel Peninsula in the last four decades. But it is not only birds that are contributing to the Aussification of northern New Zealand. Australian plague skinks are now dominating the local lizard fauna. New Zealand lizards New Zealand has an astonishingly… Read more »

Sunshine, fishing – and changes in Coromandel birdlife over 45 years

  • Papa Aroha beach. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • Brown teal, Papa Aroha, December 2016. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • Part of the Motukawao island group. Gannets nest on Motukaramarama (Bush) Island on the left. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • Spotted shags, Firth of Thames. Image: Jenny Atkins, NZ Birds Online

From welcome swallows to Australian magpies, bird expert Colin Miskelly looks at the variety of birdlife who’ve come to call Coromandel home over the past half-century. Spending the summer at the beach is part of the great New Zealand holiday tradition. For many families, attachment to a particular location results in them returning to the… Read more »

Pukerua Bay School Museum visit the Conservation Lab

Pukerua Bay School Museum with Te Papa team, Photograph by Amanda Rodgers, Te Papa

Aurelia, Paddy and Isaac visited Te Papa’s conservation team to find out all about picture framing and paper and painting conservation. Our friends from Pukerua Bay School Museum have recently created their own YouTube channel to help them reach out to their audiences. One of our favourite videos, so far, has involved the children explaining the process of restoring… Read more »