How science fiction is guiding Te Papa’s digital team

The author, Te Papa's Chief Digital Officer Melissa FIrth, and Neal Stevenson in Hīnātore, our learning lab, 2017. Te Papa

Hazel Bradshaw, part of Te Papa digital’s team, looks at how science fiction master Neal Stephenson’s work is informing ideas at Te Papa. Last week American author, Chief Futurist of Magic Leap, and game designer Neal Stephenson made a flying visit to Te Papa as part of Techweek. Some of you will know immediately know who he is and… Read more »

A new bird for New Zealand – Cox’s sandpiper

  • New Zealand’s first Cox’s sandpiper, Lake Ellesmere, November 2016. Photograph: Michael Ashbee, NZ Birds Online
  • Pectoral sandpiper. Photograph: Steve Attwood, NZ Birds Online
  • Curlew sandpiper. Photograph: Neil Fitzgerald, NZ Birds Online
  • Sharp-tailed sandpiper. Photograph: Tony Whitehead, NZ Birds Online

The latest addition to the New Zealand bird list is a legendary shorebird so rare that there are times when it is likely that none exist anywhere in the world. Bird expert Colin Miskelly introduces the Cox’s sandpiper. Sandpipers are small wading birds that separate people with a serious interest in bird identification from casual… Read more »

Research Librarian, Martin Lewis, explains why he’s been losing his marbles over marbling… One of the cool things about working in a 150 year old museum library is that you encounter amazing treasures and become obsessed about learning all you can about their construction, purpose or previous owners. One of my jobs is looking after the… Read more »

Tamatea ‘Dusky Sound’ revisited

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Mātauranga Māori curator Dougal Austin offers an indigenous perspective on first contact between Māori and Cook’s men in Tamatea (Dusky Sound). In November 2016 I took part in a field trip to remote Tamatea, or Dusky Sound, in Fiordland. Together with natural history scientists including a designated photographer, our team spent 10 days in the sounds sailing… Read more »

The expat origins of ‘gung-ho’: Rewi Alley, a New Zealander in China

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  • Rewi Alley teaching at Shandan School, Gansu, China. Alley, Rewi, 1897-1987 Photographs. Ref PA1-q-685-7-14. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. records23079924
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History curator Kirstie Ross writes about the impact that a New Zealander, Rewi Alley, had on China and spoken English, 90 years after his arrival there. ‘Gung-ho’ is a phrase that I use quite often, to describe a ‘boots-and-all’ attitude. According to the New Zealand Oxford Dictionary: What I didn’t know is that it made its… Read more »

Curating to heal: Ways of creating sovereign spaces in museums

Dominion Museum Education Service School Case. Black and white file print from negative MA_B.010164. Te Papa

Mātauranga Māori curator Matariki Williams discusses the role of curators healing past wrongs, something being addressed in our new exhibition about motherhood and Māori women. At Museums Australasia last year, a conference convened by the New Zealand and Australian museums associations, visiting Metis academic and artist David Garneau interrogated the etymology of the word ‘curate’. Garneau… Read more »

How Rita Angus landscapes inspired a Starfish collection

  • Text from Laurie Foon notebook
  • Heirloom workbook featuring fabric scraps and a postcard of a painting by RIta Angus
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It’s not every day that you get to delve into the nitty-gritty details of a fashion label. Te Papa’s assistant archivist Gareth Watkins is going through Starfish’s archive, recently gifted to Te Papa. Read his first blog here. “It’s my product. It’s my vision. It’s my dream. It’s my life,” writes Laurie Foon, founder of the Starfish… Read more »

Cinematic Renaissance animation starring Ursula the bear

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Dr Mark Stocker, Curator Historical International Art, explores a highly unusual set of etchings which depicts a day in the life of a huge, shaggy, brown bear.  Meet Ursula… In a pioneering set of prints, the Flemish artist Marcus Gheeraerts the Elder (c. 1520–1590) chronicled a day in the life of a huge, shaggy brown bear… Read more »

An action-packed Anzac week: WWI, live performances, arts and craft, and fashion

S. Rosamond Praeger working on the decoration of the 
façade of the Thomas Andrews/Titanic Memorial Hall. Photo courtesy of Joseph McBrinn.

The forthcoming ‘Anzac week’ is going to be an action packed one for Te Papa, with a wide range of events on offer for both adult and family audiences that explores aspects of the First World War and beyond. Family theatre – An Awfully Big Adventure If you are looking for a family outing over Anzac Weekend, you might… Read more »

Meeting John Clarke, and cleaning Fred Dagg’s gumboots for customs

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Comedian John Clarke has died, aged 68, but he lives on through our collections. Curator Stephanie Gibson recounts the story of how Te Papa acquired beloved Kiwi everyman Fred Dagg’s iconic outfit. Te Papa mourns the passing of John Clarke. To many New Zealanders he is Fred Dagg. Fred Dagg appeared on New Zealand television in 1973. Only three… Read more »