An action-packed Anzac week: WWI, live performances, arts and craft, and fashion

S. Rosamond Praeger working on the decoration of the 
façade of the Thomas Andrews/Titanic Memorial Hall. Photo courtesy of Joseph McBrinn.

The forthcoming ‘Anzac week’ is going to be an action packed one for Te Papa, with a wide range of events on offer for both adult and family audiences that explores aspects of the First World War and beyond. Family theatre – An Awfully Big Adventure If you are looking for a family outing over Anzac Weekend, you might… Read more »

Meeting John Clarke, and cleaning Fred Dagg’s gumboots for customs

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Comedian John Clarke has died, aged 68, but he lives on through our collections. Curator Stephanie Gibson recounts the story of how Te Papa acquired beloved Kiwi everyman Fred Dagg’s iconic outfit. Te Papa mourns the passing of John Clarke. To many New Zealanders he is Fred Dagg. Fred Dagg appeared on New Zealand television in 1973. Only three… Read more »

The stories found ‘behind’ the photograph

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There are many obvious differences between digital photography and traditional photography. One that probably doesn’t spring to mind is a photograph’s reverse side, which is non-existent in digital. Lissa Mitchell, Curator Historical Photography, looks at the ‘other side’ of photography. How often do you think of a photograph as a physical object these days? When we look at photographs… Read more »

America’s First World War posters

Poster featuring Uncle Sam pointing a finger the viewer. Text says 'I Want You For U.S. Army'

One hundred years ago the United States of America declared war on Germany and its allies on 6 April 1917. History curator Stephanie Gibson looks at American propaganda posters from the time, some of which were on display in New Zealand. In the months that followed the declaration, millions of dramatic, emotional and persuasive American… Read more »

Smokin’! When cigarettes and fashion went hand in hand

Before cigarette advertising was banned in New Zealand, Benson & Hedges enjoyed a close relationship with the fashion industry. Senior history curator Claire Regnault looks at the role tobacco played in the Fashion Design Awards. Turning dreams into gold Last weekend I travelled to Dunedin to attend iD Fashion Week’s famous railway fashion show and to see the exhibition When Dreams Turn to… Read more »

Makeshift money: Tokens in the Te Papa collection

  • A busy trading centre: Auckland in the 1850s. Hogan, Patrick Joseph, 1804-1878. [Hogan, Patrick Joseph], 1804-1878 :Auckland (Nouvelle-Zelande). Vue du nouveau quai - page 210 [Paris, l'Univers illustre, 1860]. Ref: A-438-012. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22371053
  • Coombes as depicted in Observer, Volume 5, Issue 130, 3 March 1883. He is holding a hose, as he was well known for hosing down the path outside his store to prevent dust.
  • Obverse of token issued by Samuel Coombes, New Zealand, minted by Thomas Stokes of Melbourne. Te Papa (NU002330)
  • Reverse of token issued by Samuel Coombes, New Zealand, minted by Thomas Stokes of Melbourne. Te Papa (NU002330)

Prompted by an enquiry from an independent scholar, history curator Katie Cooper has been researching a series of 19th century tradesmen’s tokens in Te Papa’s numismatics collection. Here she provides a brief history of this fascinating colonial currency. A shortage of change In the early 19th century a variety of foreign coins were circulating in New… Read more »

Coastal kōwhai in the south of its range – natural or planted?

Coastal kōwhai (Sophora chathamica). This species can be distinguished from other kōwhai species by its overlapping leaflets and lack of divaricating stage when it is young. Photo by Leon Perrie.

Science researcher Lara Shepherd explores the distribution of kōwhai in New Zealand – largely found in the north and likely introduced in the south.  Coastal kōwhai (Sophora chathamica) has a very unusual distribution. Some of its outlying populations are suggested to have been planted by Maōri. We recently published our research studying the relationships of all eight New Zealand kōwhai… Read more »

Cuckoos and their toxic prey – ‘urticated’ inside and out

  • Shining cuckoo. Photograph by Nathan Hill, New Zealand Birds Online
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  • Red admiral butterfly caterpillar (pale morph). Photograph by Norm Twigge
  • Red admiral butterfly (Vanessa gonerilla). Photograph by Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

Cuckoos can stomach toxic caterpillars, but it appears they are also impervious to being stung externally, as bird expert Colin Miskelly discovers. A previous blog on this topic referred to shining cuckoos seeking out and eating prey that are toxic to other birds – including caterpillars with urticating hairs. ‘Urticating’ refers to hollow spines that… Read more »

Young photographers display their work in a virtual gallery

Child viewing virtual art gallery

Te Papa Senior Advisor, Museum Education Tara Fagan spends some time with young children as they get creative in virtual reality. The Hīnātore learning lab had its youngest group of visitors recently. Ten four-year-olds, and their teachers, from Tai Tamariki Kindergarten visited the lab as part of their visual arts programme. They were building on their knowledge of… Read more »

Elephants on your dinner table – looking at an old trade catalogue

Elephant (detail) from catalogue

Librarian Christine Kiddey browses for jelly moulds and other assorted household items in a trade catalogue from 1850. What do you do with all those trade catalogues and advertisements that come through your letterbox? You probably glance through them and throw them out. But imagine someone looking at those same catalogues a century and a half from… Read more »