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.Read more

Until now, it hasn’t been possible to get the DNA out of a pressed dried plant (herbarium specimen) without destroying part of it by removing a leaf and grinding it up. But new research by scientist Lara Shepherd has proven that you can use an eraser to ‘rub off’ the DNA.Read more

Robin Atherton with the distinctive fruit of karaka. Robin studied karaka genetics for her PhD at Massey University and is a co-author on the new study. Photo credit: Robin Atherton

Karaka, with its large shiny leaves and bright orange fruit, is one of New Zealand’s most distinctive trees. But in pre-European New Zealand, karaka was much more than just a handsome tree – the kernels of its fruit provided an important food source for Māori. This was despite the poisonousRead more

Botany Collection Store: Te Papa has 300 000 botany specimens. Image: Antony Kusabs, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, 2015.

Today is World Science Day for Peace and Development, but science is happening at Te Papa every day . In addition to research being conducted within Te Papa, each year we also loan hundreds of science collection specimens to researchers all around the world. Researchers study our specimens to improve our collectiveRead more

‘The bloke threw such a jandal!’ The only reason a bloke could throw a jandal (aka a tantrum), is because of  Morris Yock of Onehunga. As legend has it, before the 4 October 1957,  there was technically no jandal to throw. In 1957 Yock produced a version of the Japanese sandal inRead more

A key principle in the scientific classification of animals, plants, and other living things is that the system of scientific names reflects their relationships. This is because there is only a single evolutionary history, and it provides an objective basis by which to name life. As we learn more aboutRead more

I’m a co-author of a just-published scientific paper examining the evolution and classification of the Arthropteris climbing ferns. The paper was a real international collaboration, involving authors from China, Netherlands, France, United Kingdom, and New Zealand. It is unclear how many species there are of Arthropteris – probably somewhere betweenRead more

Moin! That is how you say Kia ora or Hello in Oldenburg, which is where my family and I have been living since August 2012. As I near the half-way point in my 18-month fellowship, I thought I would show you where I am living, update you on what IRead more

Recently I have been obtaining DNA sequences from some of the fern samples collected by Te Papa Botany curator Leon Perrie on his recent trip to New Caledonia. We aim to determine the relationships of these New Caledonian ferns to other ferns around the world, including those from New Zealand.Read more