Common plant names for Māori Language Week

  • Whauwhaupaku is readily recognised by its leaves with (usually) five stalked leaflets. It is common in the North Island, and extends into the South Island, with a southern limit around Dunedin. Photo © Leon Perrie.
  • Tarata is a widespread tree that is also common in cultivation, because of its fast growth and lemon-scented flowers. The leaves, when crushed, also smell of lemon. Photo © Leon Perrie.
  • Tawhai trees dominate much of New Zealand’s remaining forests, being adapted to cold (or dry) conditions. If you want to be more specific, tawhairaunui can be used for red and hard beech, and tawhairauriki for black and mountain beech. The photo shows silver beech, known simply as tawhai. Photo © Leon Perrie.
  • Porokaiwhiri is a common and widespread small tree. Photo © Leon Perrie.

For many of New Zealand’s indigenous plants, the Māori name is the ‘common’ name, and English names are rarely, if ever, used; think rimu, tōtara, kauri, pōhutukawa, and mamaku. Other species have both Māori and English names, but it is the latter that is predominant, at least in my experience. Below are some such examples… Read more »

The Berry Boys: Hot off the press (well almost)

  • Berry Boys - available from all good books stores come August.
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This coming August marks a climax of Te Papa’s Berry Boys soldier identification project, with the screening of a documentary on seven of the soldiers on TVNZ in early August (details to come), and the launch of Berry Boys: Portraits of First World War Soldiers and Families by Te Papa Press. The latter brings all of the soldier portraits… Read more »

New WOW Factor!

A sneaky peak!

This week we are changing over a number of garments in The WOW Factor, an exhibition celebrating the wonderful, creative and inventive World of WearableArt™. The exhibition itself has been extended to 2 November 2014 so that this year’s show attendees can also enjoy seeing a number of garments up close and personal. For those of… Read more »

A Victorian Tomboy, Navigating History and Maps Maps Maps!

A birds-eye-view of the imaging process. Photograph by Riah King-Wall. © Te Papa

By Riah King-Wall, intern Kia ora – I’m Riah King-Wall, and for the past five weeks I’ve been digging into some of the fascinating bits and pieces housed within the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Here on placement from the Master of Museum and Heritage Studies programme at Victoria University of Wellington, I’ve… Read more »

Banana playing a blue accordion: a Muka Youth Print

By Rebecca Nuttall, intern “Banana playing a blue accordion.” What? My name is Rebecca Nuttall. I’ve been an intern at Te Papa and I’m describing this print to you. You’re going to love it. That’s not true. You may hate it. But how would you know? I don’t think you can fully appreciate this print… Read more »

A new bird for New Zealand – buff-breasted sandpiper

  • Buff-breasted sandpiper, South Kaipara Head, March 2014. Image: © Ian Southey
  • Buff-breasted sandpiper page on New Zealand Birds Online
  • Buff-breasted sandpiper, South Kaipara Head. Image: (c) Ian Southey
  • Buff-breasted sandpiper, South Kaipara Head. Image: (c) Ian Southey

On 20 March 2014, Helen Smith and Gwenda Pulham had nearly completed bird surveys for the day when they saw a bird that was unfamiliar to them. The two members of Birds New Zealand (a.k.a. the Ornithological Society of New Zealand) had been counting New Zealand dotterels at the bombing range roost at Papakanui Spit,… Read more »

What was New Zealand’s first fully protected native bird?

  • The March 1885 New Zealand Gazette notice that added white heron and crested grebe to the schedule of native game. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • The tui – New Zealand’s first fully protected native bird. Image: Tony Whitehead, New Zealand Birds Online
  • White heron and crested grebe – both fully protected nationwide since 1888. Images: Glenda Rees and Craig McKenzie, New Zealand Birds Online
  • The huia was one of New Zealand’s first fully protected species (in 1892), but this was not enough to save it from extinction. Image: Te Papa

I suspect that this is a question that few people have given much thought to. The answer should be as much a part of our conservation heritage as our first national park (Tongariro, 1887). The national park answer can be found in many conservation reference books and websites, but few authors have attempted to name… Read more »

Are wingless fliers Nature’s best hitchhikers?

Left: A louse-fly carries a hitchhiking louse from a Japanese crow, attached to one of the fly’s abdominal hairs. Right: detail of same louse. Photos by Rokuro Kano, Tokyo, Japan. © Rokuro Kano

by Ricardo L. Palma, Curator of Terrestrial Invertebrates Evolving without wings, humans dreamed about flying for thousands of years… but only just over 100 years ago they invented a heavier-than-air machine which could fly and take them to the skies. However, long long ago, natural evolution had already provided the opportunity to fly to creatures… Read more »

Recent acquisitions – cabinet card photographs

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I am quite fond of some of the new photographs in the collection which are a set of cabinet card format studio portraits from the late nineteenth century. Many of them were taken by photographers working in the South Island in places such as Lyttelton, Ashburton, Gore and Blenheim. I’m interested in the way these… Read more »