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Te Taiao | Nature exhibition a new benchmark for a new generation

A dawn blessing was held today for Te Papa’s ground-breaking new exhibition zone, Te Taiao | Nature. Iwi from around the country blessed the exhibition, acknowledging taonga connected to their rohe.

Te Taiao | Nature is a new permanent exhibition at Te Papa. It weaves together science and mātauranga Māori in a uniquely New Zealand experience.

Te Taiao | Nature opens to the public on Saturday 11 May. Entry is free.

A visitor marvels at almost 700 species on Te Papa's new endemic world - all are found only in New Zealand. Image courtesy of Te Papa.

With an investment of $12 million, Te Taiao | Nature is the largest redevelopment at Te Papa since it opened 21 years ago. It replaces the old nature exhibitions which have been closed since April 2018.

The 1,400-square-metre zone features more than 1,200 collection items, from a fossil dinosaur tooth to a moa egg which has never been seen by the public.

Interactive experiences include those that enable visitors to smell the scent of a kākāpō, weigh in against a giant moa, and create their own tsunami.

Te Papa Chief Executive Geraint Martin says the opening is an historic moment for the museum.

“Te Taiao | Nature sets a new benchmark in museum experiences for a new generation,” Mr Martin says.

“This is a hands-on space full of wonder and curiosity, built on the platform of leading-edge science and priceless museum collections.

“It celebrates the beauty, power and uniqueness of Aotearoa, and we hope it sparks action to protect the environment.”

Hon Carmel Sepuloni represented the government at the blessing.

“The exhibitions’ use of indigenous knowledge systems interwoven with science is unique and will no doubt be recognised around the world as cutting edge,” Minister Sepuloni says.

“These new exhibitions will reach huge numbers over their lifespan, educating a new generation about the environmental issues facing our times and prompting them to take action to protect our moana and whenua.”

Te Papa’s Frith Williams has led a creative team that has been developing the exhibition for the last three years.

“Te Taiao | Nature is going to become a favourite with visitors, it’s going to give new insights, and we hope it’s going to spark real world action,” Ms Williams says.

“This is an exhibition that invites us to step up to our role as kaitiaki, guardians of our unique islands.

“There’s heaps to do in the exhibition: to see, hear, touch, and even smell. Visitors get to really take charge and see themselves as part of nature.”

EQC and GNS Science have been key partners of the exhibition, and of Te Papa since opening.

EQC Chief Executive Sid Miller says he's excited about what the exhibition offers.

“We are excited to be sponsoring four key pieces within Te Taiao | Nature, including the quake house which gives Te Papa’s visitors a realistic, interactive experience of what it can be like when an earthquake strikes,” Mr Miller says 

“We encourage people to visit the exhibit, learn more about earthquakes and natural disasters, and find out how they can make their homes more resilient and secure.”

GNS Science has been instrumental in creating Whakarūaumoko | Active Land exhibits including an animation of the Taupō super-volcano, the most ferocious super-volcano in the world, that created Lake Taupō.

GNS Science Chief Executive Ian Simpson says this exhibition will be the first time Te Papa visitors can see the whole of Aotearoa’s natural history in one rich and immersive exhibition.

“In Te Taiao our latest, cutting-edge science has been linked with mātauranga Māori and vividly brought to life,” Mr Simpson says.

“Visitors will be able to see our continent Te Riu-a-Māui | Zealandia forming before their eyes, create their own tsunami, and experience in high-definition the powerful volcanic eruption that created Lake Taupō.”

More than a hundred scientists from Te Papa and beyond have been involved in creating Te Taiao | Nature, with experts on everything from earthquakes to glow worms contributing their unique knowledge.

Mātauranga Māori experts have brought perspectives and knowledge from te ao Māori, from the traditional knowledge of environmentally friendly fish hooks, to the creation story of New Zealand’s volcanoes. All exhibition text is bilingual.

Dozens of creatives and artisans from around New Zealand have provided their unique skills to create the elaborate exhibition, including model makers, taxidermists, animators, illustrators, writers, and carvers.

Exhibition highlights

Te Ika Whenua | Unique New Zealand

  • Smell the fragrance of a kiwi, a kākāpō, a petrel… and the sulphur of geothermal zones.
  • See a full-sized feathered model of the extinct Hōkioi (Haast eagle) with a wingspan of 2.6 metres.
  • Be wowed by models of full size male and female moa skeletons.
  • Touch a real fossil moa bone, and stand on a scale to compare your weight with a moa.

Whakarūaumoko | Active Land

  • Get shaken again by the quake house which returns, revamped to reflect our latest understanding of quake action.
  • See and hear an ultra-realistic portrait of the eruption that created Lake Taupō.
  • Use a wave tank to create your own tsunami.
  • Select from different rock recipes and see how your volcano performs.

Te Kōhanga | Nest

  • A 70-square-metre, 4-metre-high “nest” woven together from recycled materials.
  • Visitors are surrounded by bird song and imagery.
  • A priceless real moa egg is on display, which has never been displayed before.

Ngā Kaitiaki | Guardians

  • Looks at how kiwis are tackling the big environmental challenges: pests, water quality, and climate change.
  • Put your hand up to turn back climate change in the immersive digital room The Climate Converter.
  • See the colossal squid, the only complete specimen on display in the world.

Updated on 10th June 2019