We generate a lot of data at Te Papa. Specimens. Photographs. Facts and figures. We’re always thinking of ways to get that data out there and into your hands – and recently we’ve been diving headfirst into Wikipedia. Here, Digital Channels Outreach Manager Lucy Schrader talks about the work that went into getting hundreds of images of forget-me-nots onto the site, allowing them to spread across the web.
Using the correct Sāmoan words is important: it’s a way of giving mana to the original creators and users of the taonga in our collection. As part of the ongoing Mapping the Sāmoa Collections project, Alexander Gordon has been tasked with making a glossary of Sāmoan vocabulary to document how words have changed over time. This will ensure that we are using the correct words to identify objects and make it much easier to search our catalogue.
Massey University student Hayden Jones and Botany Curator Carlos Lehnebach are launching a citizen science project aiming at solving the identity crisis that surrounds one of our most common terrestrial orchids and your observation could provide the clue to solving this taxonomic imbroglio. Maikuku – the white sun orchid (Thelymitra
In an earlier blog, we learnt about Japanese migrant Setsuko Donnelly (b. 1933–d. 1991) and her remarkable life in Aotearoa New Zealand through the words of Setsuko’s daughter, Deb Donnelly. In the recollections gathered below, various members of the Donnelly family remember their mother and grandmother through the cherished Japanese meals (especially sukiyaki!) and cultural practices she passed on to them.
Rona Chapman, Art History and Public Policy student at Victoria University, recently spent time as an intern with our Knowledge and Information and Art teams. While here, she registered over 300 of our important artwork files, and wrote about several paintings and prints that are now on show in the exhibition Hiahia Whenua | Landscape and Desire. Along the way, she found a personal connection to some of the artworks, a series of lithographs by Edith Halcombe made nearly 150 years ago.
Our Mapping the Sāmoa Collections project is a collaboration between Te Papa and the Bishop Museum in Hawai‘i and aims to enhance museum catalogue records and develop digital maps to contextualise taonga; enhancing their visibility and improving associated biographies, which then allows communities to utilise and share these resources, as well as support museum collections and knowledge. In 1930, Māori academic Te Rangi Hiroa (Sir Peter Buck) published the ethnological book Samoan Material Culture, whilst working for the Bishop Museum based on his collections and fieldwork in Sāmoa in the 1920s. This connection and sustained collaboration is an opportunity to better understand the scope of the collections, oral histories, and indigenous knowledge systems which feature in this work. Research Assistant Alexander Gordon reflects on his first forays into the project.
Why is a specimen of New Zealand’s indigenous carrot on display at Te Papa for the next few months? Curator of Botany Leon Perrie explains. Among the most significant plant specimens in our care are collections made in 1769-1770 from Aotearoa New Zealand by botanists Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander.
During our recent Botany Blitz where we were cracking open boxes that have been patiently waiting to be processed and databased, we catalogued many specimens, learned new things about our collections, and discovered many fascinating stories along the way. Botany Curator Heidi Meudt talks about delving into a folder of
Film photography and negatives have had a bit of a resurgence lately but they were once the only way to get pictures made. A large part of our current project digitising the Spencer Digby / Ronald D Woolf Collection is processing around 250,000 photographic negatives. But how does a photo negative get from our storerooms onto Collections Online? Imaging Technician Cat Watters tells us about part of their role in the digitising project team.
It has been over two years since Aotearoa New Zealand went into lockdown in the hopes of limiting the spread of Covid-19. While not yet behind us, we are now in a position to be able to reflect on those early stages of the pandemic. Throughout this time a myriad of responses were put into place with the community at the very centre. Master of Museum and Practice Student Kate Hudspith-Gooch spent a one-month internship at Te Papa, and was tasked with conducting a small-scale research project into one of the lesser-acknowledged responses to the pandemic – iwi-led Covid-19 Checkpoints – as a part of the ongoing Making Histories: Communities and Covid-19 Project. Kate talks about her research here.
Recently the Botany team at Te Papa dedicated a week to curating several boxes of plant specimens – we called it the Botany Blitz! Our aim was to crack open boxes that have been patiently waiting – months, years, or in some cases decades – to be processed and databased. During our Blitz, we catalogued many specimens, learned new things about our collections, and discovered many fascinating stories along the way. Botany Curator Heidi Meudt processed one of the boxes from the botanist Thomas Kirk.
When we think of Te Papa’s collections, we generally think of boxes neatly arranged systematically on shelves, everything in its place. But perhaps every collection / Collection Manager at Te Papa has a pile of material in boxes or on shelves in the ‘waiting to be processed’ category. Maybe this material needs more information, maybe someone else needs to look at it, or maybe it was put aside because it was ‘too hard’ or perhaps just forgotten about. Kaitiaki Taonga Collection Manager Bridget Hatton describes the Botany Collection’s recent Botany Blitz along with some of the findings.
The insect collection at Te Papa holds a hidden wealth of vibrant foreign specimens. Due to a reorganisation process, Technicians had a chance to rehouse and examine the foreign specimens. Natural History Technician Shaun Thompson talks about what he learned about our foreign insect collection.
Many individuals from, and working alongside, Asian diasporas in Aotearoa New Zealand have consistently called for a greater focus on mental health issues. Our Asian Mental Health Project lead Mehwish Mughal offers a deeply personal insight into why the mental health concerns of Asian communities need to be addressed.