The following is a kustom stori of the Roviana people of the Western Solomon Islands; the story of Tiola, a banara (chief) in Solomon Islands mythology and the origin of the nguzunguzu, the prow figureheads used by the islands’ tribes.
This month we opened a mini-exhibition called Feathermania: Fashion to Die For based on one of the chapters in History Curator Claire Regnault’s recent book, Dressed: Fashionable Dress in Aotearoa New Zealand from 1840 to 1910.
Here, Claire describes some of the objects in the exhibition in more detail, including some of the problems associated with the popularity of rare bird feathers and the impact on their population as well as society.
Curators Rodrigo Salvador and Alan Tennyson, working with colleagues from GNS Science and the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), used chemical analysis on the sub-fossil bones of this extinct duck to determine how it lived. Here they describe what they found.
Our DNA lab, the only museum-based one in New Zealand, celebrated its fifth anniversary last year. Research Scientist Lara Shepherd summarises what we’ve learned so far.
Over the course of many years, a tidy collection of bird eggs has made its way across the world. The collection’s final resting place just so happens to be here at Te Papa, where Natural History intern Isabella Milner has steadily worked through cataloguing it, and packing the eggs away into their forever homes. Here she describes how eggs are identified despite having very little information to go on.
While rummaging through cabinets, Curator Invertebrates Rodrigo Salvador found a two-centimetre treasure: the shell of an extinct snail from Saint Helena. Here he talks about the ecology of Saint Helena and how the snail ended up in a museum in New Zealand.
The rowi is New Zealand’s rarest kiwi with only about 600 individuals left in the wild in a single population at Ōkārito. A number of suspected hybrids between rowi and little spotted kiwi have been found over the years.
In December 2020, Te Papa botanists Heidi Meudt and Antony Kusabs were in the field with three North Island iwi: Tamakaimoana, Ngāti Porou, and Te Whānau-ā-Apanui. Worryingly, their search for rare forget-me-nots was unsuccessful. But their collaborative mahi struck a meaningful chord.
Neither snow nor rain nor wind nor gloom of night stays these botanists. On a field trip to the South Island in January 2021, botanists Heidi Meudt and Antony Kusabs went to some extreme measures to collect forget-me-nots and other plants for our research and collections.
The name Apteryx haastii was applied to great spotted kiwi in 1872. However, a recent study by Researcher Lara Shepherd, Vertebrate Curator Alan Tennyson, and collaborators, has shown that Apteryx haastii is not what we thought it was.
To mark the recent Rotuman Language Week 2021, Senior Curator Pacific Histories and Cultures Sean Mallon shares two rare stories of Rotuman travellers who found their way to New Zealand in the early 1800s, and how a contemporary Rotuman artist has remembered one of them.