Two days on Ile de la Possession, Crozet Islands

  • Courting wandering albatrosses, Isle de la Possession, Crozet Islands. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa
  • Gentoo penguin greeting display, Isle de la Possession, Crozet Islands. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa
  • Northern giant petrel chick, Isle de la Possession, Crozet Islands. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa
  • King penguin colony, Baie du Marin, Crozet Islands. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa

The Crozet Islands are one of three subantarctic island groups in the southern Indian Ocean that together form the ‘Terres Australes’ of the Terres Australes et Antarctiques Françaises (TAAF). They are large islands (though much smaller than Kerguelen, which we visited next), with the two largest islands both exceeding 13,000 ha (in contrast, Campbell Island… Read more »

Reunion Island to Crozet Islands

  • Marion Dufresne
  • Les fromage du Marion Dufresne. Image Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa
  • Empty ocean – sunset over the southern Indian Ocean. Image Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa
  • Wandering albatross (female). Image Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa

Even after sending reams of (French) documents to the Institute Polar Emile Victor (IPEV) over the past six months, I had a slight unease that I would arrive at the security gate at Le Port (Reunion Island) and discover that I was not on the passenger manifesto for the Marion Dufresne. But my fears were… Read more »

The market at Savalalo, Apia – collecting and recollecting

maketi 6

This past weekend there was a large fire in the flea market at Savalalo in Apia, Samoa. The entire building was destroyed and with it the livelihood of many vendors and their families. The maketi (market) was a local landmark and an important part of my experience of Samoa as a visitor and tourist. It was… Read more »

Life and death among the Barau’s petrels of Reunion Island

  • Barau’s petrel on colony surface at night. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Life + Petrel. Life the petrel dog with a Barau’s petrel burrow he discovered. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Asian house shrew (Suncus murinus, introduced to Reunion Island). Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Marbled toad (Amietophrynus gutturalis, also introduced). Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

Few New Zealanders had heard of Reunion Island before a chunk of wing from missing flight MH370 washed up on the eastern shore in early 2015. But the island is well-known to ecologists as one of the worst examples of the impacts of humans on island ecosystems. More than half of the endemic birds are… Read more »

Remembering Melvin Day 1923-2016

Coastline by Day, Melvin. 1964, London.  Oil on canvas. Purchased 1972. Te Papa (1972-0023-1)

We were deeply saddened to hear of the death of Melvin (Pat) Day on 17 January.  Pat was a well-known Wellington artist who was at the forefront of developments in abstraction and cubism during the 1940s and 1950s. Most importantly for Te Papa, he was also the director of the National Art Gallery from 1968 to… Read more »

Help name a new species

The new fern species grows on limestone and similar rocks in the north-west South Island. Photo © Leon Perrie.

The You Called Me What?! exhibition celebrates 150 years of scientific discovery at Te Papa. A big part of this has been the scientific naming of more than 2500 animal and plant species by museum staff since 1865. We’re now giving you the opportunity to be involved. The exhibition will showcase several of the new… Read more »

Painting by numbers: creating a colonial masterpiece

William Strutt’s View of Mt Egmont, Taranaki, New Zealand, taken from New Plymouth, with Maoris driving off settlers’ cattle, 1861 has been described by some as the ‘holy grail’ of colonial New Zealand painting. Paintings of this calibre are few and far between in New Zealand’s art history, as budding artists were more often preoccupied… Read more »

Lecture by visiting fashion historian Alexandra Palmer

Alexandra Palmer

On Tuesday 9 February, 2016 at 6pm Dr Alexandra Palmer of the Royal Ontario Museum in Canada will present a lecture at Massey University, Wellington on ‘Frock coats, redingotes and Dior: Fashion in the Royal Ontario Museum 1909-2016’. The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is similar to Te Papa in that its collections span the intertwined worlds of natural history and… Read more »

Using DNA to trace the pre-European planting of karaka

Robin Atherton with the distinctive fruit of karaka. Robin studied karaka genetics for her PhD at Massey University and is a co-author on the new study. Photo credit: Robin Atherton

Karaka, with its large shiny leaves and bright orange fruit, is one of New Zealand’s most distinctive trees. But in pre-European New Zealand, karaka was much more than just a handsome tree – the kernels of its fruit provided an important food source for Māori. This was despite the poisonous kernels requiring considerable treatment before… Read more »