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 »

A plastered pastoral for Christmas

  • Pan and Syrinx
*oil on panel
*40,3 x 61 cm
*ca 1617
  • Studies of nose mouth
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  • Ribera nativity

Dr Mark Stocker, Curator Historical International Art, looks at a remarkable print of drunken excess in the collection by 17th century Spanish artist Jusepe de Ribera. In my previous Christmas blogs, I have focused on art works that emphasise the spiritual: Madonna and Child and Adoration themes in Te Papa’s collection, New Zealand’s early ‘Old… Read more »

‘It’s the objects that sparkle, not me’: A day in the life of an art collection manager

Anna Brookes in the art storerooms

Museum jobs are hugely varied and there are hundreds of us who work behind the scenes caring for collection objects and getting exhibitions ready. One of these roles is undertaken by our collection managers. Art collection manager Anna Brookes shares with us what she gets up to day to day and her tips for getting into… Read more »

Ancient colossal penguin bones discovered in Otago

  • Alan shows the location of the found bones on a to-size drawing of the penguin
  • Alan and his mum Bice looking at the penguin bones
  • Penguin illustration Tess Cole
  • S 045877 Fossil penguin vs Emperor Penguin scaled 4000px

What do you do when you discover what is possibly the largest penguin ever? You name it after your mum. This is what Curator Vertebrates Alan Tennyson – who has a paper on the discovery out today – did. The emperor penguin is a truly impressive mound of bird but it would have been relatively small in comparison… Read more »

Collecting the spirit of Hawai‘i through aloha shirts

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  • Kealopiko's Pua Aloalo shirt. Te Papa.
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New Zealand and Pacific collections intern Sonya Withers and history curator Claire Regnault recently travelled to Hawai‘i where they collected 83 aloha shirts with a focus on indigenous Hawaiian designers. Claire Regnault reflects on the connection these designers have with their natural environment and how this inspires their designs. Why aloha shirts? In October, Sonya Withers… Read more »

Cross-pollination experiments with one of New Zealand’s rarest trees

Bartlett's rātā

When an incredibly rare native tree – the Bartlett’s rātā – flowered for the first time in a quarter-century, Botany curator Carlos Lehnebach was ready with his tweezers. Bartlett’s rātā is one of the most threatened trees in New Zealand. It’s also one of our rarest species, with only 13 trees left in the wild… Read more »

Further flax weevil finds from farthest Fiordland

  • Flax weevil on Round Island, Preservation Inlet. Photo by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa
  • Southern Winds in Cascade Basin at the head of Long Sound. Photo by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa
  • Flax weevil larvae, Preservation Inlet, November 2017. Photo by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa
  • Sites where flax weevil feeding sign was noted in Chalky and Preservation Inlets in November 2017. Red arrows show islands where live flax weevils were found. Map based on NatureWatch sightings contributed by the Te Papa and DOC team.

Until 2016, flax weevils (large flightless protected beetles) were known from a single island in Fiordland. Recent surveys by Te Papa and Department of Conservation staff have now found evidence of them on a further 56 Fiordland islands. Here, Te Papa scientist Dr Colin Miskelly reports on the latest findings from remote southern Fiordland. What… Read more »

Seabird discoveries in remote southern Fiordland

  • Colin Miskelly searching for petrel burrows on one of the ‘Fingers’ of Five Fingers Peninsula, Resolution Island, with the Southern Winds below. Photo by Alan Tennyson. Te Papa
  • A broad-billed prion chick on an islet off the southern Fiordland coast. Photo by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa
  • Team members landing on outer Garden Island, Chalky Inlet. Photo by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa
  • A broad-billed prion (left) and an Antarctic prion (right), Chalky Inlet, November 2017. Photo by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa

Te Papa scientists Alan Tennyson and Colin Miskelly recently joined a Department of Conservation-led survey of seabird colonies in remote Chalky Inlet and Preservation Inlet in southern Fiordland. The team made the most of an extended spell of fine weather to land on an astonishing 77 islands. Vertebrate curator Dr Colin Miskelly here summarises some… Read more »

How a museum mount maker secures the nation’s treasures

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Lots of works goes on behind the scenes to get objects ready for exhibition. Mount maker Callum Strong is tasked with creating mounts to display and protect the nation’s treasures. Here he explains the efforts that went into displaying the hīnaki, or eel trap, in our latest iwi exhibition, Ko Rongowhakaata: The Story of Light… Read more »

Movembering Dr Hassell and his magnificent mo

Bust portrait of a middle aged man, holding a walking stick in his left hand. He has blue eyes, a ruddy complexion and an abundant ginger moustache that extends beyond the side of his face.

Rebecca Rice, Curator Historical New Zealand Art, explores a mystery behind Dr Gray Hassell’s magnificent moustache. There are two main reasons I feel an affinity with Dr Gray Hassell. Firstly, he was born in Oamaru, also my hometown, in 1860. Secondly, well, that moustache. In my childhood, my father sported a similarly magnificent mo. So… Read more »