A father, mother and son standing behind a table set for dinner. The table has a lace tablecloth and the mother is wearing a white apron.

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.Read more

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.Read more

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.Read more

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.Read more

Tufunga Tātatau Terje Koloamatangi is of Tongan and Norwegian Sami ancestry. Born in Nuku’alofa Tongatapu with ancestral ties to Kolovai, Pangaimotu Vava’u, and Åmøya, in Northern Norway. He lives in Tāmaki Makaurau, Aotearoa New Zealand. Koloamatangi is an artist and cultural tattoo practitioner. His work is centred on the revival of tātatau faka-Tonga (customary Tongan tattooing), a passion he has maintained for over 20 years. His practice is built on historical accounts, gleaned from texts, museum collections, and Tongan oral traditions. Here, Terje Koloamatangi discusses the origins and uses of the Tongan custom of tātatau or tattooing.Read more

Members of Te Papa’s whānau recently established an informal Takatāpui Rainbow Sharing group. The group is open to all Te Papa kaimahi and acts as a hub to share information on collections and upcoming events (internal and external) relating to our various communities. To mark this year’s Wellington Pride Festival Tū Whakahīhī e Te Whanganui-ā-Tara (3–17 September) some of our members have written about what Pride means to them.Read more

Museums are magical places where time travel happens almost on a daily basis and getting to know what our ancestors and their acquaintances were up to in the 1800s is not so far a reach. Botany Curator Carlos Lehnebach describes how the discovery of a box full of seed packets stored at Te Papa brought a botanist, a nurseryman and his great-great-granddaughter together more than a century later.Read more

Bringing the swamp helmet orchid back from the brink of extinction is a mission that requires a multidisciplinary team of scientists, good eyesight and a lot of patience. There are only a few hundred plants of this species in the world; all of them are here in Aotearoa New Zealand. Curator Dr Carlos Lehnebach talks about his latest research to save this species.Read more

Two people stand by water, with two fake deer. In the water is a torii (gate)

What does a young Japanese migrant from Hiroshima bring with her to her new adopted country? Setsuko Yotsugi brought a few things with her to start a future life in Wellington: hopes, dreams, resilience, and values. Here, her daughter Deb Donnelly tells the story of her mother’s journey to Aotearoa New Zealand and how she kept her connection with her birth country alive.Read more

It is with great sadness that we mark the passing of Luit Bieringa on 21 June.

Bieringa was director of the National Art Gallery from 1979 to 1989, an institution that merged with the National Museum to form what is now Te Papa. His story is embedded in the history of Te Papa – and indeed in the history of art in New Zealand. And the art works he and his staff acquired that are in our collection are a legacy he left for future generations.Read more