In 2017, Taranaki collector Alastair Johnson found the fossil of a giant petrel. Initially, it was encased in rock but careful preparation revealed something stunning. Not only was it a complete skull but it was the first fossil ever found of an intriguing kind of seabird. Two years later, Alastair found part of a wing bone of a giant petrel too. Both fossils are 3 million years old. Vertebrate Curator Alan Tennyson and Research Fellow Rodrigo Salvador describe the distinctions and fierce habits of giant petrels.
Because of their modest flowers and small size, New Zealand epiphytic orchids are rarely talked about and even more rarely studied. This is about to change as summer research intern Joe Dillon (Victoria University of Wellington) spends his summer at Te Papa and Ōtari Wilton’s Bush native botanic garden researching an
Aotearoa New Zealand has a plethora of weird and wonderful plants. The ferociously spiky speargrasses are some of our most distinctive plants and an iconic feature of New Zealand’s high-country, especially when flowering. Te Papa Research Scientist Lara Shepherd and Botany Curator Leon Perrie recently embarked on a new project
In the Sāmoa Collections at Te Papa there are at least 60 measina that once belonged to soldiers who served in Sāmoa in World War One. They give us insight into the lives of Sāmoans and New Zealanders at the time, as well as the ways that the relationships between the two countries have changed over more than 100 years.
The internet’s primary function as a repository for cat pictures is well established, but what about our pre-digital cat photos? Doesn’t the world deserve to see them as well? Imaging Technician Ish Doney describes the housing of the Digby/Woolf photographs collection and uses the opportunity to share some favourites.
We are saddened to hear of the recent death of New Zealand botanical illustrator and author, Audrey Eagle (1925–2022). Eagle was a talented artist, writer and botanical collector, whose careful observation, skill and determination over many decades brought forth several books, each containing beautiful and botanically accurate illustrations and descriptions
Dunedin photographer Gary Blackman passed away on 22 November 2022 at age 92. Here curator of photography Athol McCredie reflects on some aspects of Blackman’s work. When Gary Blackman discovered photography as a form of personal expression in the early 1950s he was way ahead of his time. Too far
Harakeke, or New Zealand flax, was of vital importance to Māori. It was the most significant source of fibre and had a multitude of uses from making ropes, clothing, mats, and baskets. Like many other museums, we hold a large number of taonga made from harakeke. For many of the
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. 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.