Where have all the royal souvenirs gone?

Stephanie Gibson, Te Papa’s Curator of Contemporary Life & Culture writes: It was with great sadness last week that I read about the demise of royal visit souvenirs (‘No royal knick-knacks thanks, we’re Kiwis’, The Dominion Post, 1 April 2014). According to the journalist ‘tacky royal collectibles are becoming relics of a bygone age’. There… Read more »

Ivan Mercep (1930 – 2014)

Image of Te Papa from Wellington Harbour

It is with sadness that we farewell the distinguished architect Ivan Mercep who died this week.  As part of the original Jasmax concept group, he contributed extensively to the design of Te Papa that opened on Wellington’s waterfront in 1998. The new building, a major construction project,  was to house the new institution, Te Papa… Read more »

Granddad’s visit

The Duke of Edinburgh at Mt Victoria lookout, Wellington, 1975. Photograph by Brian Brake, 1956. Gift of Mr Raymond Wai-man Lau, 2001. E.4415. Te Papa.

Continuing our series of blogs to mark the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to New Zealand, I thought I would touch on one of the lesser known royal visits of the past, that of William’s grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh, in December 1956. The relative obscurity of the visit was matched by… Read more »

Philatelic Princesses

  • Poster, 'The "Royal" Road To National Fitness!'; 1943; C. M. Banks Ltd.  Purchased 2001.  Te Papa
  • Princess Elizabeth, 1943.  Cecil Beaton.  Bertram Park Collection, The British Postal Museum & Archive, London
  • Two pence + one penny Health stamp, 1944.  Gift of the New Zealand Post Office, 1944.  Te Papa
  • One penny + halfpenny Health stamp, 1944.  Gift of the New Zealand Post Office, 1944.  Te Papa

Famous stamp collectors in history range from King George V to Queen vocalist Freddie Mercury. The 1943 New Zealand Health stamps feature prominently in the latter’s carefully arranged schoolboy album. Their triangular shapes carry novelty appeal, while their subject matter is charmingly distinctive: Princess Elizabeth, later Queen Elizabeth II (aged sixteen) and Princess Margaret (aged… Read more »

Royal Insights: The Royal School of Needlework

In celebration of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s first Royal Tour of New Zealand, we have decided to dedicate a ‘Royal Tour’ length blog series to items in the collection which somehow relate to the Royal family and their relationship to New Zealand. I was going to start the week’s blog posts with a piece on… Read more »

Royal highlights: A portrait of Queen Mary

Portrait of Her Majesty Queen Mary, 1938. Elwes, Simon. Gift of the Women of New Zealand, 1939. Te Papa

  With the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to New Zealand, it’s the perfect moment to ask what some of Te Papa’s treasures tell us about our feelings towards royalty.  Lorde’s critical and irreverent take on the ‘Royals’ of her mega-hit song runs counter to the overwhelming royalty loyalty of our past… Read more »

The ‘Berry Boys’ WWI soldier identification project: the story so far

The Berry Boys soldier identification project has progressed leaps and bounds since 2008, when a group of portraits of unidentified World War I soldiers first featured on Te Papa’s website to mark the 90th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice. Getting the ball rolling We were able to inaugurate the detective work required to… Read more »

Throne of Emperors – unpacking for Saturday’s opening at Te Papa

  • Installing a pottery soldier. Photographer: Justine Olsen © Te Papa
  • Pottery soldier from the Han dynasty (202 BCE- 220CE). Photographer: Justine Olsen © Te Papa
  • Painted terracotta foot soldiers and horsemen. Western Han dynasty (202 BCE-8CE). Unearthed from Yangjiawan, near Xianyang, Shaanxi Province, 1965. Photographer: Justine Olsen © Te Papa
  • P1000852-1

Justine Olsen, Curator of Decorative art and design, provides a fascinating insight into the preparation for the Throne of Emperors exhibition, opening 22nd March. This Saturday two important exhibitions open to the public: China: Throne of Emperors and Shi Lu: A revolution in paint. Developed by the National Museum of China in partnership with Te Papa, each… Read more »

Snares Islands Flora – bryophytes & lichens

  • Caption: A trick for young players! Asplenium gametophytes and young plants. Image: Antony Kusabs, Te Papa.
  • Caption: A new record of liverwort for the Snares -the leafy liverwort genus Aneura (centre-left) growing with moss Pyrrhobryum bifarium (sporophytes visable) on a rotting Olearia stem in a gully. Image: Antony Kusabs, Te Papa. (Field of view c. 15cm)
  • Fern Blog Ph 11 - Resized
  • Caption: A new moss record for the Snares Islands - Tayloria purpurascens! Te papa collection item M041684. On the right you can see the leafy gametophyte (gamete plant). And on the left, the stalk-like structure is the sporophyte (spore plant) which develops from female reproductive organs on the gametophyte. (Field of view c. 4cm)

In late 2013, I joined a Te Papa science team on an expedition to the Snares Islands Nature Reserve, 105 km south-southwest of Stewart Island. Here we completed a range of seabird and plant research projects.  One of our research goals on the Snares Islands was to collect non-vascular plants.  Non-vascular plants include mosses, liverworts and hornworts (collectively… Read more »