New DNA research by Science Researcher Lara Shepherd and Vertebrate Curators Colin Miskelly and Alan Tennyson has revealed parallel evolution in the small seabirds called prions. This unexpected result requires recognition of an eighth species of prion. Their research also revealed that all the birds formerly known as ‘fulmar prions’ are endemic to Aotearoa New Zealand. This means that we have gained two additional endemic bird species, and Australia has lost a breeding species.
There are a handful of bird species that are included on the New Zealand list based on a single specimen found storm-wrecked somewhere on New Zealand’s long coastline. Curator Vertebrates Colin Miskelly describes the discovery of the latest addition to this list.
This month, Curator Vertebrates Alan Tennyson and the Department of Conservation’s Johannes Fischer, published a scientific paper that clarified the identity of a common subantarctic seabird. Alan explains why this was necessary and what a surprising and incredible history this research revealed.
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.
In this blog, Ainu scholar, artist, and activist Kanako Uzawa discusses the representation of Japan’s colonial history in museums and public spaces for Te Papa’s Cipiyak Project.
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.
Recently our Fish Team processed some bycatch specimens that had been sent to us by MPI Scientific Observers. In one box were not one, but four specimens of a rare species of a frogmouth fish. Not only that, the biggest one was a world record.
Last year, Te Papa received a grant from Lotteries NZ towards the digitisation of the Spencer Digby / Ronald D Woolf Collection of around 250,000 photographic negatives shot between the 1930s and 1980s. The project is now well underway! Imaging Technician Ashleigh James McKenna gives us an insight into how the negatives are managed.
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.
The theme for this year’s ‘Epetoma o te reo Māori Kūki ‘Āirani – Cook Islands Language Week is ‘Ātuitui’ia au ki te Oneone o tōku ‘Ui Tupuna which means connect me to the soil of my ancestors. To mark the week Curator Pacific Cultures Rachel Yates has a taratara with current staff member Kate Ngatokorua about her experiences as Miss Cook Islands.
Around the world, gobies are a major component of the benthic fish fauna of coastal tropical and temperate seas and estuaries – except around New Zealand. Here, triplefins (family Tripterygiidae) have evolved 30 species which have radiated to fill almost every ecological niche more usually occupied by gobies elsewhere. It