Tapa, or barkcloth, is an important textile in the Pacific. Tapa is made from the beaten inner bark of some plant species, but once the tapa is made then identifying which plant species was used is difficult. Our genetics researcher Lara Shepherd teamed up with Catherine Smith from the University of Otago and colleagues to create a DNA reference database for identifying the plants used to make tapa.
In 2020, Te Papa acquired an 1897 watercolour painting by Margaret Stoddart that had been given the title Yellow blossom and rosemary by the cataloguers. But what are those blossoms, really? And is that rosemary in the vase, or something else? Here, Curator of Historical Art, Rebecca Rice unpacks the painting and suggests it could be somewhat pricklier than it first appears.
Being in lockdown in Wellington didn’t mean an end to fieldwork for some of our staff. Botany Curator Leon Perrie and Researcher Lara Shepherd – who are in the same bubble – used their lockdown walks to collect roadside weeds for our herbarium. But what did they find within only a short walk from home?
Who doesn’t know them, the little stars of Aotearoa – glow-worms? Titiwai, their Māori name refers to lights reflected in water. Who hasn’t been mesmerised by their sparkling light, visiting a cave or seeing them in the bush during a night walk? Insect Curator Julia Kasper talks about her research on the iconic critter with the glowing bum.
Melanie Ioane-Warren, one of our Natural History interns, talks about the important collection of bird bones gathered by the late Augustus Hamilton. Melanie is working on this bone collection together with Curators Alan Tennyson and Rodrigo Salvador, and GNS scientist Karyne Rogers. In 1875, the clipper ship Collingwood departed England
The process of collecting and identifying an organism is long and stringent. Despite this, mistakes can still be commonplace. Lorenzo Ravalo is a contractor working with us as a Natural History Technician and takes us through some of the challenges faced in keeping up to date with taxonomy. Identifying an
One hundred years ago, Wellington naturalist George Hudson walked the forest near his home – now Zealandia wildlife sanctuary – in search of fascinating New Zealand insects. During the late 1800s and early 1900s, Hudson collected and identified thousands of moth specimens, now part of one of the largest insect collections in New Zealand.
Natural History intern Annie Robertson describes his legacy, the 100 Year Project, and what the citizen science and entomologist communities have found.