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

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Should we ban all petrol cars? Should we limit tourist numbers? Should rubbish collection always include a separate food waste bin for composting, even if we all have to pay more? Exhibition Experience Developer Murphy Peoples and Digital Producer Amos Mann discuss Te Au | The Current, a forum for fresh ideas around Aotearoa New Zealand’s toughest environmental challenges. Te Au | The Current aims to collect and reflect diverse opinions that could spark real-world change. See how others feel and add your voice to The Current to help solve New Zealand’s toughest nature challenges.Read more

Huia are one of Aotearoa’s most well-known birds, despite going extinct over 100 years ago. Early European scientists were fascinated by the radically different bills of the male and female huia, a feature called sexual dimorphism. More recently scientists recognised the New Zealand wattlebird family, which includes huia, as one of three families worldwide containing the most extreme variation in bills. A new study by Massey University’s Gillian Gibb and Te Papa’s Lara Shepherd used DNA sequences to determine when the New Zealand wattlebird family and the extraordinary sexual dimorphism in huia evolved.Read more

Snails and slugs are some of the most threatened animals on our planet today and their biodiversity is still vastly uncharted. In the digital age, community science platforms such as iNaturalist pose an interesting perspective to gather new information on these organisms through user-submitted photos and data. Using Brazil as a case study, our new study explores the potential of iNaturalist as a source of biological data on rare snails and slugs. Undergrad student Rafael Masson Rosa reports on some new discoveries and recent outcomes from the study.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

Jessie Prebble, former Te Papa/Massey PhD student in Botany, and Te Papa Curator Botany, Heidi Meudt (2016), holding a forget-me-not herbarium specimen. Te Papa

Taxonomic research involves a number of aspects, including field trips, lab work, studying and comparing live plants (in the field or glasshouse) or pressed specimens, and reading previous scientific papers. Not to mention analyzing and interpreting the data, incorporating previously published research, and writing up the results for publication. Sometimes, such research forms the basis of a post-graduate thesis (Master’s or PhD).  Curator Botany Heidi Meudt talks about one student’s journey.Read more