Condoms, critics, and controversies: Te Papa’s early days

Protesters in Te Papa

14 Feb marks ours 20th anniversary. Author of ‘Te Papa: Reinventing New Zealand’s national museum’ Conal McCarthy retells some of the early criticisms, controversies, and protests when we opened in 1998. – Extract taken from the book Te Papa: Reinventing New Zealand’s national museum 1998-2018, published this month by Te Papa Press. Art lovers wanted a more… Read more »

Wildlife highlights of Disappointment Island

  • Captive Auckland Island rail. Photograph by Rod Morris. Department of Conservation
  • Auckland Island snipe. Photograph by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa
  • Gibson’s albatross pair displaying, Disappointment Island (main Auckland Island in background). Photograph by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa
  • Colin Miskelly with a lesser fulmar prion chick extracted from a muddy burrow, Disappointment Island. Photograph by Kevin Parker. Parker Conservation

Bird expert Colin Miskelly recently joined an albatross research team on the rarely visited Disappointment Island in the subantarctic Auckland Islands. But he was on a separate mission to research the more secretive species on this misnamed gem of an island. An inappropriate name There are few places on the planet with more inappropriate names than… Read more »

Our Curator of Historical International Art, Dr Mark Stocker, is a big LEGO® fan: “I’m a geometrical kind of guy. I love eating Toblerone and if I drove a car it would be a Nissan Cube”. At Te Papa we’re currently hosting Brickman: Wonders of the World until 18 February. Mark therefore jumped at the opportunity to interview… Read more »

Threading history through the Aloha shirt: From Hawai‘i to Aotearoa

Aloha shirt

The Aloha shirt is an iconic Hawaiian taonga (treasure) with a rich history and layers of meaning. Assistant Pacific Cultures curator Sonya Withers explores the stories in their designs. If there is any culture across the Pacific rim that can naturally produce clever combinations of colours and the romantic scenery of their islands through the wardrobe of fashion it… Read more »

Conserving Rongowhakaata’s fragile ‘Iron Man’

Injecting stabilisers, 2017. Photo by Rachael Hockridge. Te Papa

One of the significant taonga exhibited in Ko Rongowhakaata: The Story of Light and Shadow is a nose-less poutokomanawa (centre post) called Rongotueruora, affectionately known as ‘Iron Man’ due to his iron shoulder pads and rāpaki (skirt). This taonga was in a very fragile state when conservator Nirmala Balram came to inspect him. Nirmala takes… Read more »

A trip to remote Tokelau: Life a few metres above sea level

Aerial view of Atafu atoll

The Pacific island nation of Tokelau is one of the most remote places on the planet, and, with the entire country sitting metres above sea level, one of the most under threat from climate change. Media creator Kate Whitley describes the journey to this vulnerable ‘necklace of small islands’. In November 2017 a small group… Read more »

Cigarette packets and chocolate boxes: How we used to store our collections

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Storing collections in the right space and environment is incredibly important in museums – so would you be surprised to see natural history specimens stored in colourful vintage cigarette packets? Curator Alan Tennyson and conservator Robert Clendon shed light on past practice. Modern museum storage involves rows and rows of uniform beige and grey boxes,… Read more »

Te reo Kiwi: Are you using Māori every day?

  • Te Papa
  • Fridge
  • Weaving family together
  • Manu

Te Papa is always looking for creative ways to promote te reo Māori. What are some of the ways we’re doing that? How’s the whānau? What’s your favourite kai? Can you count to tekau? Some New Zealanders use Māori kupu in everyday conversation, dropping Māori words into English. If that’s you, then you’re talking what… Read more »