Extinct birds of New Zealand, Part 2 – Songbirds

  • Skull and mandible of Chatham Island raven (Corvus moriorum). Te Papa Collections Online S.028679
  • Skull and mandible of South Island stout-legged wren (Pachyplichas yaldwyni). Te Papa Collections Online S.023578
  • Lyall’s wren (Traversia lyalli). Te Papa Collections Online OR.005098
  • Huia (Heteralocha acutirostris). Te Papa Collections Online OR.001328

Songbirds are perhaps our most familiar birds, including most of the species that visit our gardens. They also include our best-known extinct bird – the huia, which has been extinct for about a century. Many people blame hunting by humans (for specimens to sell to collectors, or for the much-prized tail feathers) for the huia’s… Read more »

Whāngaia te Reo – Nurture the Language

Kia ora! This week is Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori and the theme is Whāngaia te Reo – Nurture the Language. Te Reo Māori is a living taonga (treasure) and – like the physical objects in Te Papa’s collections – a taonga which needs kaitiakitanga (guardianship) to survive. At Te Papa we want to… Read more »

‘Bravest and best of scouts’: Colin Warden 1890-1915

giants with rachael-39

This is the third blog in our series about the real people behind the eight Weta Workshop-crafted models featured in Gallipoli: The scale of our war. The previous two blogs have been about Spencer Westmacott and Percival Fenwick. This one focuses on Colin ‘Col’ Warden, shown in this pre-war photograph, which I think would have… Read more »

Life through a burrowscope lens (Part 6) – subterranean Paparoa National Park

  • Foraging track of a male Westland petrel during 9 days while his mate was caring for their egg. Data courtesy of Susan Waugh, Te Papa. Base map from Google Earth
  • An adult Westland petrel on the colony surface at night. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • The burrowscope tube and screen, showing a Westland petrel egg inside a burrow. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Te Papa staff member Jean-Claude using the burrowscope to check the identity of a Westland petrel in a study burrow. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

Te Papa vertebrate curator Dr Colin Miskelly recently spent 10 days at Punakaiki (on the West Coast of the South Island) as part of a Te Papa seabird research team. This blog reports on what the team found underground within a specially protected area of Paparoa National Park. As described in previous blogs in this… Read more »

He Reta mai Karipori

Hēnare Wēpiha Te Wainohu

Ko tā Paora Tibble (kaiwhakamāori o Te Papa), he tuhi rangitaki mō te reo Māori ki Karipori. Kāti, i te 3 o Hūrae 1915, ka pae Te Hokowhitu-a-Tū ki uta, ki Karipori. Koia Te Ope Tuatahi (Māori). Ākuni pea, he nui ngā hōia Māori ko te reo Māori tō rātou reo matua. Nō te wiki o… Read more »

Coca-Cola celebrates centenary of the curvaceous Coke bottle

Coca-Cola bottle top

Dame Margaret Sparrow writes about the Coca-Cola bottle top on display in Te Papa’s exhibition Contraception: Uncovering the collection of Dame Margaret Sparrow (Illott Room, level 4). The Coca-Cola flavour was introduced by an American pharmacist in 1886 and sold in bottles from 1894. In 1915 a competition was held for a distinctive bottle which… Read more »

Extinct birds of New Zealand, Part 1 – A diverse menagerie, sadly departed

  • Skull ofNew Zealand owlet-nightjar (Aegotheles novaezealandiae). Te Papa Collections Online S.022454
  • Skull of the enigmatic Forbes’ snipe (Coenocorypha chathamica); Te Papa Collections Online S.025428. How did two snipe species co-exist on the Chatham Islands?
  • Skull of Eyles’ harrier (Circus teauteensis). Te Papa Collections Online S.033635
  • This South Island snipe (Coenocorypha iredalei) was photographed in 1964 during a failed rescue attempt after rats invaded its last island refuge. Image: Don Merton, New Zealand Birds Online

Few New Zealanders are aware how many bird species have been lost since people first reached New Zealand less than 800 years ago. The number of named extinct species continues to increase, largely due to careful examination of bones from Chatham Island dunes and caves, but is currently 53 species – an appalling indictment of… Read more »

Amongst the many events happening this weekend during Wellington’s 150th birthday is the official unveiling of a plaque (below). The plaque commemorates 150 years since the founding of Te Papa’s predecessor, the Colonial Museum, and the role of James Hector in setting up and running the museum, amongst many other things. (Hector was an amazing scientific… Read more »

Colossal Squid #2: Update

squid eye

Te Papa’s second colossal squid, Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni, is part of the displays for the upcoming Te Papa Open House on 25th July 2015 – a part of the 150th celebrations for the Wellington City as capital of New Zealand. The squid was caught in the Ross Sea in early 2014, by Captain John Bennett on board the San Aspiring,… Read more »

Len Lye: under the sea and in New Plymouth

Painting of biomorphic organisms by Len Lye

This is a momentous week for modern art in New Zealand – on Saturday, the Len Lye Centre at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Plymouth will open to the public, the first ever space in New Zealand dedicated to a single artist. To toast this exciting occasion, it seems like a good opportunity to… Read more »