Tangle ferns untangled

The undersides of the four species of Gleichenia tangle fern accepted for New Zealand. From top: alpine tangle fern, Gleichenia alpina; tangle fern, waewae-kötuku, Gleichenia dicarpa; pitted tangle fern, Gleichenia inclusisora; carrier tangle, matua-rarauhe, Gleichenia microphylla. Scale bar = 2 cm. Composite image © Te Papa.

A focus for my research in 2014 has been preparing an account on the Gleicheniaceae fern family for the online Flora of New Zealand. More on the revolutionary online Flora of New Zealand. The Gleicheniaceae in New Zealand comprises nine species in the genera Dicranopteris (one species, restricted to central North Island thermal areas), Gleichenia… Read more »

A Natural History of Christmas Part 2: Underneath the mistletoe…..

Red mistletoe (Peraxilla tetrapetela) Temple Stream, Ram Hill, Otago. Photo: Leon Perrie.

Christmas trees, carol singing, Christmas stockings – many Northern Hemisphere Christmas traditions have been brought to New Zealand. One that we haven’t ‘embraced’ is kissing under the mistletoe. I wonder why not? Is it because of our reserved kiwi natures or is it our mistletoes…….? There are around 1300 species of mistletoe worldwide and all are… Read more »

Te Papa’s Science Showcased

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The exhibition DeCLASSIFIED! Nature’s secrets exposed at Te Papa has just opened. It showcases recent discoveries by Te Papa’s scientists. Find out more about DeCLASSIFIED! Nature’s secrets exposed on Te Papa’s website. There are species new to science – from fish to landhoppers, seaweeds, lice, ferns, and fossil parrots. Other discoveries include newly documented behaviours…. Read more »

Christmas Treasures from Te Papa

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  • 1948-0005-3; Party, Christmas Eve; Circa 1930; Richardson, H L.
  • 1948-0005-3; Party, Christmas Eve; Circa 1930; Richardson, H L.

Seasonal Treasures from Te Papa In global terms, Aotearoa New Zealand is not a religiously observant nation. But we have long taken pride in being a tolerant one. Many of us thoroughly enjoy our Santa parades, carol services and, among cultural enthusiasts, full-on performances of Handel’s Messiah. It is difficult to imagine a publicly displayed… Read more »

Take a glimpse of this remote corner of New Zealand, and follow Te Papa’s scientists as they go scrambling up rocks and cliffs to carry out their research. Three kilometres to the west of the main Snares Islands lies the isolated Western Chain group. They are rarely visited, and can only be reached in calm… Read more »

High-flying prints in Air New Zealand exhibition

Poster, ’NAC’, 1950s, New Zealand, by New Zealand National Airways Corporation, Weeks Field Ltd.. Purchased 2011. Te Papa (GH017270

Air New Zealand’s 75th anniversary celebrations begin with a new exhibition due to open at Te Papa on the 20 December 2014; Air New Zealand 75 years: Our nation. The world. Connected. The exhibition includes a fabulous and sometimes quirky range of objects selected from Air New Zealand’s archive and Te Papa’s own collection. As our… Read more »

Travels with Betsy – exploring the world of albatross personality

  • A discussion in the field hut around the days activities. Betsy was a keen contributor to how we developed our testing regime. Left to right: Research assistants Tim Poepart, Julien Collet and CNRS researcher Dr Samantha Patrick. Image: Susan Waugh; Copyright: Te Papa.
  • Samantha Patrick, CNRS research repairs Betsy after a particularly intense interaction with a 'bold' albatross. Image: Susan Waugh; Copyright: Te Papa.
  • A birds with a more 'bold' response to meeting Betsy, clacks its bill and grumbles as Betsy is pulled away. Image: Susan Waugh. Copyright: Te Papa.
  • Research assistant Julien Collet presents Betsy to an unsuspecting albatross on the nest. Photo: Susan Waugh. Copyright: Te Papa.

Do albatrosses have personalities? And if so, how do scientists measure such intangible characteristics? This blog provides some of the background to research Te Papa scientists were involved in, examining how birds use their environment, and how individual personality traits of these birds can be measured. The previous blogs on this topic can be accessed here…. Read more »

The Natural History of Christmas Part 1 – The Night Before Christmas

Comparison of the morphometry of a dwarf (left) and elf (right) suggests a dwarf is more likely to be the creature masquerading as St Nicholas in Moore's poem.

Clement C. Moore’s classic poem Twas The Night Before Christmas, written in the 1820s and known to many, describes the “elf” St Nicholas making his home deliveries of presents, and the delight of a small child in seeing this happen. It’s clear that Moore was an ardent lover of nature, as there are no fewer than… Read more »

Te Papa scientists wanted to learn more about the plants on the Snares Islands, which have rarely been studied because the islands are so remote. The plants’ descriptive names tell us a lot about the species. There are tree daisies and Cook’s scurvy grass – and some species so little known that they don’t even… Read more »

Westland Petrels weathering the storm…mostly!

  • Tree fallen in the Westland Petrel colony showing a petrel burrow inspection lid (white object 1/2 buried in the ground) amongst the uprooted roots of the tree. Image Susan Waugh, Copyright Te Papa.
  • Viewed from the screen of the burrow-scope we get a clear view of the petrel chick inside the burrow. Image: Susan Waugh. Copyright Te Papa.
  • A classic sign of petrel activity in the mud-stone of Westland's Punakaiki coast. Birds climbing up the steep terrain make claw-marks in the soft substrate. This bedrock also proves a slippery base for the overlying topsoil, which has slipped off in large areas in and around the Westland Petrel colonies monitored by Te Papa researchers in 2014. Image: Susan Waugh, Copyright Te Papa.
  • A juvenile Westland petrel. We banded all young birds at the study colony, to track their survival to recruitment to the breeding population in 4-5 years time. Image: Susan Waugh, Copyright, Te Papa.

New Zealand has an amazing diversity of seabirds. Around 1/3 of the worlds 348 species are found in New Zealand waters, with a high number of endemic and threatened species among them. Te Papa has a long-term research programme on Westland Petrels, a species that nests in the coastal cliffs near Punakaiki, on the West… Read more »