It’s been three years since Covid-19 triggered lockdowns around the world, including here in Aotearoa New Zealand. We’ve just published a collection of online comics, highlighting a multitude of experiences faced by members of the Chinese New Zealand community during this time. Here, curator Grace Gassin introduces The Pandemic Chronicles.
It has been over two years since Aotearoa New Zealand went into lockdown in the hopes of limiting the spread of Covid-19. While not yet behind us, we are now in a position to be able to reflect on those early stages of the pandemic. Throughout this time a myriad of responses were put into place with the community at the very centre. Master of Museum and Practice Student Kate Hudspith-Gooch spent a one-month internship at Te Papa, and was tasked with conducting a small-scale research project into one of the lesser-acknowledged responses to the pandemic – iwi-led Covid-19 Checkpoints – as a part of the ongoing Making Histories: Communities and Covid-19 Project. Kate talks about her research here.
Being in lockdown in Wellington didn’t mean an end to fieldwork for some of our staff. Botany Curator Leon Perrie and Researcher Lara Shepherd – who are in the same bubble – used their lockdown walks to collect roadside weeds for our herbarium. But what did they find within only a short walk from home?
Who doesn’t know them, the little stars of Aotearoa – glow-worms? Titiwai, their Māori name refers to lights reflected in water. Who hasn’t been mesmerised by their sparkling light, visiting a cave or seeing them in the bush during a night walk? Insect Curator Julia Kasper talks about her research on the iconic critter with the glowing bum.
During lockdown, we’ve been encouraged to ‘post’ objects in our windows to offer symbols of solidarity – teddy bears and Anzac poppies – for people walking past, looking in. Rebecca Rice, Curator Historical New Zealand Art reverses the direction and looks at works in our collection where the artist shows us views from the inside out.
Our building may be closed, but Lara Shepherd takes us through the important work that the Natural History team are doing from home. What has the team been working on in their bubbles? How is collection management continuing with no access to the collection? And what’s on the menu for our flesh-eating beetles?