Connecting Past and Present

Close up of B.43877

This photograph below was lost the moment it was taken in 1929 or 1930. Mary Sporle, known as Dolly, proudly showed off her son Leslie for the camera at Wellington’s Berry & Co. studio with the intention of giving his grandparents a photograph of him. But her family believes she never returned to order prints, perhaps because the… Read more »

Nancy Adams, Wendy Nelson and the Three Kings’ seaweeds

  • Nancy Adams – National Museum staff portrait, August 1976. Photograph by Trevor Ulyatt. Te Papa MA_E.000345/031
  • $1.80 ’Three Wise Men’ Christmas stamp, 2009, Wellington, by Stephen Fuller, Southern Colour Print. The New Zealand Post Museum Collection, Gift of New Zealand Post Ltd., 1992. Te Papa PH001431
  • Wendy Nelson holding the New Zealand Marine Sciences Award that she received in 2007. Photographer Alan Blacklock, reproduced courtesy NIWA
  • Curdiea balthazar W.A.Nelson et al., collected 24 November 1998, Archway Island, Princes Islands, Three Kings Islands. Te Papa herbarium sheet A029596

The three kings (or three wise men or magi) are Christian icons – but how many people are aware that they have seaweeds named after them? The connection is via the Three Kings Islands north-west of Cape Reinga. Known as Manawatahi to Māori, they are one of only two localities in New Zealand that have… Read more »

Co-collecting in Guåhan: Inside the Artists’ Studio

Polishing metal

When you walk through an exhibition, it is easy to forget that the objects and taonga on display are the final products of a long creative process. While they may result from moments of inspiration or from countless studies, they are also formed by an artist’s ability to problem solve a number of physical and logistical… Read more »

10,000 images on New Zealand Birds Online

  • Red-necked stint nest with four eggs, Putorana Plateau, North-Central Siberia, July 2010. Image: Sergey Golubev, NZ Birds Online
  • Red-necked stint in breeding plumage, Bering Sea coast, southern Chukotka, June 2008. Image: Sergey Golubev, NZ Birds Online
  • Sergey Golubev (second from left) and comrades alongside their Mil Mi-8 helicopter, Putorana Plateau, North-Central Siberia. Image: Sergey Golubev
  • Emperor penguin chick being brooded by its parent, Haswell archipelago, Antarctica, September 2012. Image: Sergey Golubev, NZ Birds Online

The 10,000th image loaded on New Zealand Birds Online might seem an unlikely image to celebrate, but it has an astonishing back-story. It is a well-camouflaged clutch of four eggs, laid by a tiny wading bird that doesn’t even breed in New Zealand. The image was taken by Russian biologist Sergey Golubev on the remote… Read more »

Alan Baker and Maui’s dolphin

  • Diadema palmeri at 25 metres depth, Anne's Rock, Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve, January 2016. Image: Crispin Middleton,
  • Alan Baker in March 1981 (when Assistant Director of the National Museum) with the skull of a male strap-toothed whale (Mesoplodon layardii) from the Chatham Islands. Alexander Turnbull Library, Dominion Post Collection (PAColl-7327), EP/1981/1170/15
  • Maui’s dolphin (Cephalorhynchus hectori maui). Image: Department of Conservation and Auckland University
  • Knightaster bakeri Clark, 1972, Poor Knights Islands, Buddle landing. Te Papa EC.001151, collected by Alan Baker 19 May 1969. Te Papa image MA_I317970

Former museum director Alan Baker was a keen scuba diver with research interests in marine invertebrates (especially sea urchins and starfish), fish, whales and dolphins. Te Papa turned 150 years old on 8 December 2015. To celebrate 150 years since the opening of the Colonial Museum in Wellington, the exhibition ‘You called me WHAT?!’ is… Read more »

John Yaldwyn and the frog crab

  • Frog crab, Notosceles pepeke, named by John Yaldwyn and Elliot Dawson, 2000. The holotype was collected in 1998, between Three Kings Islands and Cape Reinga. Found at depths of 59–211 metres. Image by Richard Webber, Te Papa
  • Dr John Yaldwyn, Assistant Director of the National Museum, 1976. Photograph by Trevor Ulyatt. Te Papa (MA_E.00350/32a)
  • South Island stout-legged wren, Pachyplichas yaldwyni, 2005, by Paul Martinson, watercolour on paper. From the series ‘Extinct Birds of New Zealand’. Te Papa (2006-0010-1/2)
  • South Island stout-legged wren, Pachyplichas yaldwyni, 2005, by Paul Martinson, watercolour on paper. From the series ‘Extinct Birds of New Zealand’. Te Papa (2006-0010-1/2)
May 2006
Equipment: Cruse CS 185SL450 Synchron Light Scanner
Software Used: Adobe Photoshop CS 8.0

This file is property of Te Papa Press

Former museum director John Yaldwyn specialised in crustaceans, but he also had a keen interest in extinct New Zealand birds, archaeology, and history. Te Papa turned 150 years old on 8 December 2015. To celebrate 150 years since the opening of the Colonial Museum in Wellington, the exhibition ‘You called me WHAT?!’ is open on… Read more »

30 years on! Evergreen collages pay tribute to LGBTI rights and homosexual law reform

The signing of the Homosexual Law Reform Act on the 11 July 1986 was a pivotal moment in the fight for equality and human rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people. The Act decriminalised sexual relations between gay men 16 years and over, but it was also hugely important in terms of the ongoing… Read more »

What prions are and why we should care

  • Prions can thrive at sea in the wild southern oceans. Photo: Broad-billed prion, off The Snares, Phil Battley, New Zealand Birds Online.
  • The prion population at The Snares was badly affected when about 200,000 broad-billed prions died in a storm in 2011. Photo: Alan Tennyson, New Zealand Birds Online.
  • Fulmar prions have short, chunky beaks and are by far the rarest prion species. Photo: Bounty Islands, Paul Sagar, New Zealand Birds Online.
  • Prions often nest in dense colonies - these holes are fairy prion burrows. Photo: North Brother Island, Colin Miskelly, New Zealand Birds Online.

If you see a dead bird on a New Zealand beach it is likely that you have found a prion, as they are the most common kind of bird washed ashore. So why has almost no-one heard of prions and why are many dead on our beaches? The answer is that prions are one of… Read more »

What (or which) was New Zealand’s first protected dolphin?

  • Pelorus Jack (a Risso’s dolphin, Grampus griseus) accompanies a vessel in Admiralty Bay, 1901–09. Image: James McDonald (Te Papa C.025085).
  • Children playing with Opo (a bottlenose dolphin, Tursiops truncatus), Opononi, 1956. Image: Eric Lee-Johnson (Te Papa O.007809/04).
  • Hector’s dolphin (Cephalorhynchus hectori) – New Zealand’s first protected dolphin – but only in the waters of Cook Strait between 26 October 1956 and 1 March 1959, and 17 March 1966 to 4 July 1968. Image: Steve Dawson, New Zealand Whale and Dolphin Trust
  • MA_I152094 resized

New Zealanders have had the privilege of enjoying the company of many dolphins that chose to interact with people or boats. Some became household names, including Pelorus Jack (1888-1912), Opo (1955-56), Horace (1978-79), Aihe (1987-93), Maui (1992-97) and Moko (2007-10). The close bond that people developed with these dolphins led to concern about their welfare… Read more »

The final tweets of @tepapacolonline


Twitter turned 10 years old earlier this year. Te Papa hasn’t been using twitter quite that long, but the unfortunately named (my fault) @tepapacolonline account, created to share Te Papa’s amazing collections, has been around for a while now, having first dipped its toes in the twitter waters on February 27, 2009. A lot has happened… Read more »