Hard women


I don’t much like having my portrait taken. The longer the process goes on, and the more expectant I am of a good result, the worse it seems to get. So how much do you have to know about being photographed to get a good portrait? How many times do you need to be photographed before… Read more »

China and Shi Lu in focus this Thursday at Te Papa

  • Shi Lu, 风神兼彩, Strength of character 1973, ink on Chinese paper
  • Shi Lu, 自画像, Self-portrait 1951, pencil drawing, Beijing: National Museum of China, reproduced courtesy of Shi Lu’s family.
  • Shi Lu in Beijing, 1979, photograph, courtesy of Shi Lu’s family
  • Shi Lu produced numerous sketches in preparation for Fighting in Northern Shaanxi, experimenting with the composition, brushstrokes, and palette. Shi Lu, Fighting in Northern Shaanxi, 1959, chinese painting on paper, Beijing: National Museum of China, reproduced courtesy of Shi Lu’s family.

China Lecture and Symposium, Thu 15 May, 2pm–8pm, Te Papa Face to face with Shi Lu Working on the exhibition Shi Lu: A revolution in paint has been a revelation for me. Ever since my Uncle traveled to China in the 1980s, bringing back memorabilia from the Friendship shops, teaching my Nana to play Mah… Read more »

NZ Music Month: ‘Blue Smoke’

While May marks the beginning of winter, it also more cheerfully heralds New Zealand Music Month – that is a 31 day celebration of home-grown talent across the length and breadth of the country. With so much Kiwi music now ‘blasting through our airwaves, soaring off stages, and rumbling out of ludicrously lowered cars at the lights… Read more »

Adding value to old nests

  • South Island kokako. From ‘Extinct birds of New Zealand’. Painting by Paul Martinson (original held by Te Papa)
  • A South Island piopio nest in the Te Papa collection (OR.027634). The only information on the label is “Cleddau River, Milford Sound”.
  • Thomas Potts, c.1875, alongside the type specimen of the great spotted kiwi (Apteryx haastii), which Potts named in 1872. Image 1/2-005225-F, National Library of New Zealand
  • South Island kokako. From ‘Extinct birds of New Zealand’. Painting by Paul Martinson (original held by Te Papa)

An enduring frustration for museum curators is being aware of objects or specimens that have little or no acquisition or collection data. This, sadly, is often the case with our oldest natural history specimens. A specimen without data is almost worthless – while an old specimen with good data is almost priceless. It is an… Read more »

Leaning churches & busy crowds: recently digitised cartes-de-visite photographs of early Christchurch


This is a wonderful early photograph of a crowd watching what appears to be a sporting event on the grounds of the old Normal School (later Cranmer Court apartments, now demolished). At the time the photograph was taken some of the people were moving, making some of the figures appear blurry (see especially the person walking along behind… Read more »

Pukehinahina / Gate Pā flag in front of Te Papa

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Yesterday marked a huge day of commemorative activity in Tauranga to signify the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Pukehinahina /Gate Pā, and here in Wellington, Te Papa also contributed to the commemorations. The museum flew a replica of the Gate Pa flag from its main flagpoles to acknowledge the 150th anniversary. It was flown… Read more »

Find ferns and win!

Piripiri, Hymenophyllum demissum, Wellington.  A filmy fern that is common in New Zealand.  Photo (c) Leon Perrie.

The next Science Live @ Te Papa event on Friday 16 May reveals the secret world of ferns. Join botany curator Leon Perrie live online to find out what makes these Kiwi emblems special. Plus, can you help to make a scientific discovery? Tune into Science Live: Secret World of Ferns  As part of this… Read more »