The large-leaved Aciphylla speargrasses or taramea are difficult plants to collect. Their rigid leaves are tipped in a sharp point and the bracts on their flower spikes are similarly ferocious. These defences are thought to have evolved to avoid browsing by moa, but they also work against botanists! Consequently, speargrasses are under‑represented in plant collections (herbaria). Te Papa Research Scientist Lara Shepherd and Botany Curator Leon Perrie describe how they approached sampling speargrasses on their recent collecting trip.
Sehar Moughal is a psychologist, activist, public speaker, teacher, and doctoral candidate at the University of Auckland. Her professional and research work centres around challenging the status quo and advocating for people on the fringes. Mehwish Mughal, who leads our Asian Mental Health project, asks Sehar what makes her so passionate about the work she does.
How do museum curators decide what specimens to keep, or to give to the beetles to be reduced to bones, or dispose of? As Natural History summer interns, Ben Carson and Tobia Dale, were tasked with the job of processing three recently acquired research collections from prominent herpetologists Ben Bell, Ruth Ainsworth, and Phil Bishop.
Performing Artist, academic, and community advocate Ras Judah Seomeng migrated here, along with his family, from Botswana, Africa over 18 years ago looking for greener pastures. Currently at the beginning of his PHD candidature at Auckland University, he works for Change Makers Resettlement Forum – A Wellington-based, not-for-profit organisation that supports refugee migrants with resettlement processes, assisting them with the challenges they experience in Aotearoa New Zealand, helping them navigate a new culture and existence. Seomeng speaks about Mother Languages Day 2023 and discusses the effects of living in places where the commonly spoken language isn’t your own mother tongue or first language.
Read about Tora, a little boy with a big love for insects. Tora is determined to learn everything about his loved bugs and also to help them. One group of his favourite insects are bees, not the ones that produce native honey, but native bees that are crucial for Aotearoa New Zealand’s ecosystem. Bee inspired, Curator Invertebrates Julia Kasper shows us nature’s six-legged wonders through a child’s eye.
People of Asian heritages face many well-documented obstacles to their mental and physical wellbeing in Aotearoa – these include dealing with anti-Asian racism, xenophobia, migration stress, and access and language difficulties (or alternatively, generational language and cultural loss). In the video below, we hear from several knowledge holders working in the Asian mental health space as they outline the key issues we need to tackle to open the door to positive change.
Te Papa recently acquired three hei karaka woven by Tangimoe Clay (Te Whakatōhea) in Ōpōtiki, in the eastern Bay of Plenty. The lei or hei karaka is a form of necklace or adornment. Mātauranga Māori Curator Issac Te Awa describes the hei karaka and how this collection represents a modern
Thousands of people have worked at Te Papa – while it was being designed, then constructed, and since it opened to the people of Aotearoa New Zealand on 14 February 1998. Several kaimahi have worked here since before we opened, or from Day One, while many younger kaimahi have only ever known Te Papa as the national museum. Many of us are somewhere in between. As we celebrate our 25th anniversary, some of our kaimahi share their memories of our place of work, Te Papa Tongarewa.
Sun, rain, hail, mist and snow – Research Scientist Lara Shepherd and Botany Curator Leon Perrie encountered them all over an epic six-week plant collecting trip late in 2022. Their aim was to collect Aciphylla speargrasses for a research project to determine the number of species. Here is an overview
In 2017, Taranaki collector Alastair Johnson found the fossil of a giant petrel. Initially, it was encased in rock but careful preparation revealed something stunning. Not only was it a complete skull but it was the first fossil ever found of an intriguing kind of seabird. Two years later, Alastair found part of a wing bone of a giant petrel too. Both fossils are 3 million years old. Vertebrate Curator Alan Tennyson and Research Fellow Rodrigo Salvador describe the distinctions and fierce habits of giant petrels.
Because of their modest flowers and small size, New Zealand epiphytic orchids are rarely talked about and even more rarely studied. This is about to change as summer research intern Joe Dillon (Victoria University of Wellington) spends his summer at Te Papa and Ōtari Wilton’s Bush native botanic garden researching an
Aotearoa New Zealand has a plethora of weird and wonderful plants. The ferociously spiky speargrasses are some of our most distinctive plants and an iconic feature of New Zealand’s high-country, especially when flowering. Te Papa Research Scientist Lara Shepherd and Botany Curator Leon Perrie recently embarked on a new project
In the Sāmoa Collections at Te Papa there are at least 60 measina that once belonged to soldiers who served in Sāmoa in World War One. They give us insight into the lives of Sāmoans and New Zealanders at the time, as well as the ways that the relationships between the two countries have changed over more than 100 years.