‘A taste of hell’: Cecil Malthus on the Somme

Cecil Malthus, 1914. Courtesy of the Malthus family.

Finding Cecil Malthus in a muddy shell hole at the end of Gallipoli: The scale of our war reminds visitors that many Gallipoli veterans like Cecil went on to face more hardship on the Western Front. Just over 100 years ago, in September 1916, Cecil fought in the Battle of the Somme – the New… Read more »

Life through a burrowscope lens (Part 7) – subterranean Taumaka (Open Bay Islands)

  • A fairy prion on its nest, as seen through a burrowscope, Taumaka, September 2016. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • A little penguin on its nest (eggs concealed), as seen through a burrowscope, Taumaka, September 2016. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • A fur seal pup as seen through a burrowscope, Taumaka, September 2016. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • A tawaki incubating its two eggs, as seen through a burrowscope, Taumaka, September 2016. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

A Te Papa research team visited Taumaka, 4 km off the South Westland coast last month as part of a project investigating why some New Zealand seabirds breed in winter. Our focus while on Taumaka was tawaki / Fiordland crested penguin and korora / little penguin, and was undertaken with the permission of Taumaka me… Read more »

Painting a Developing New Zealand: The Watercolours of James Crowe Richmond

  • West Wanganui inlet featuring Maori gardens to the right
  • Watercolour landscape of Greymouth harbour from the 'old pa'
  • Black and white photograph of an Italian sluicing claim in Westland
  • Black and white photograph of West Coast mining town Lyell

For most New Zealanders, the name James Crowe Richmond is an unfamiliar one. Yet the landscapes he captured during his travels through southern back country evoke a quiet nostalgia for a rugged, untamed colonial New Zealand.

Fascinating forget-me-not pollen


Now that springtime is upon us in New Zealand, many plants are starting to flower, producing pollen. Many of us have a negative association with pollen due to its role in causing allergies [PDF, 172KB]. But not all pollen causes allergies, and pollen is of course extremely important to the biology and ecology of flowering plants. Some… Read more »

Birdlife of Taumaka (Open Bay Islands)

  • A male tawaki / Fiordland crested penguin broods its young chicks on Taumaka, September 2016. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Taumaka viewed from the east, with Popotai in the background. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • A fairy prion departing from its nesting crevice before dawn, Taumaka, September 2016. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • An adult weka feeding a dead tawaki chick to its brood of three young chicks. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

Taumaka is a 20 ha Māori-owned island lying off the South Westland coast. Administered by the Taumaka me Popotai Trust, the island is well-known as a breeding site for kekeno / New Zealand fur seals and tawaki / Fiordland crested penguins. Both species were studied on the island by students from the University of Canterbury… Read more »

The joy of dressing up – a look through our photography collection

9 people in Pierrots (clowns) outfits

With the World of Wearable Art Show (WOW) in town, and fantastic costume art in Te Papa’s store windows, we were inspired see what creative costumes we have in our photography collection. Mr A. Mason wearing a ‘poster’ costume for the Empire Tea Company’s Crescent brand, which was described in advertisements of the time as… Read more »

The power of lace – making European Splendour 1500-1800, Te Papa

Maker unknown, lace collar, linen, Europe. Gift of Mrs M W Aitken, 1970. Te Papa (PC001724). © photographer Justine Olsen.

Lace is fascinating for its changing and divisive role in history. Desired for its beauty and admired for its technical expertise, the best quality was restricted in use for monarchs and nobility.  While sumptuary laws during the 1500 and early 1600s claimed to protect local industries, lace actually helped identify social rank of the individual…. Read more »

Two new birds for New Zealand – Herald petrel and red-footed booby

  • Red-footed booby on Napier Islet, Kermadec Islands, 2 April 2016. Image: Robert Atkinson, New Zealand Birds Online
  • New Zealand’s first Herald petrel, photographed among the Herald Islets (Kermadec Islands) on 29 March 2016. Image: Steve Wood, New Zealand Birds Online
  • Red-footed booby flying near Napier Islet (Kermadec Islands), 2 April 2016. Image: Steve Wood, New Zealand Birds Online
  • The booby trap – Napier Islet (Kermadec Islands), showing where the red-footed boobies were roosting. Image: Steve Wood

Finding a new bird species for their country of residence is the holy grail for many birdwatchers – and a thrill that few get to experience. Over the last decade, new species have been detected in New Zealand at an average rate of one every 15 months. The finding of two new bird species within… Read more »

Māori Museum Educators – Te Papa meets Tairāwhiti

Pania & Julie

Grass roots programme developing is best achieved by: Not trying to invent the wheel Learning from those who have been in your shoes Targeting an area that shares your demographical target audience – In this case, a predominantly Māori audience Realising a potential win/win situation when it’s staring you in the face a.k.a quid pro… Read more »