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Opening date announced for Te Papa’s ground-breaking nature zone

February 20, 2019 Attraction No Comments Email Email

The biggest change to Te Papa since the museum opened will be unveiled to the public on 11 May 2019.

Te Taiao Nature, Te Papa’s brand new $12 million nature zone, is a bold and immersive journey through the natural world of Aotearoa New Zealand, combining cutting-edge science with mātauranga Māori.

The 1,400-square-metre zone is a permanent new addition to the museum. Entry is free.

Te Papa revealed yesterday [Sunday 17 February] that a priceless moa egg, one of only 36 in the world, will be at the heart of the spectacular new space.

Te Taiao Nature will feature over 1,200 collection items from New Zealand’s natural world, along with dozens of brand-new interactive experiences, from creating your own tsunami to weighing in against a giant moa. It replaces Te Papa’s previous nature area, which closed in April 2018. While the exhibition is completely new, two old favourites will return: the colossal squid and a revamped Earthquake House.

Te Papa Chief Executive Geraint Martin says the world-leading exhibition ushers in the next generation of the Te Papa experience.

“Twenty one years ago, Te Papa redefined how New Zealanders see themselves and their country, and Te Taiao Nature is the next twist in that Te Papa DNA,” says Mr Martin.

“This is a brand-new experience, unlike anything else in the world, and one that every New Zealander is going to want to see for themselves.”

Mr Martin says the exhibition explores pressing environmental issues like climate change, ocean health, fresh-water quality, and pest eradication.

The museum’s incredible natural history collections will be showcased throughout, including a moa egg dating at least 700 years, one of only 36 known mostly intact moa eggs in the world. [More information on the egg below.]

Dr Susan Waugh, Te Papa’s Head of Science, says the exhibition will inspire visitors to take action and be a catalyst for change.

“In true Te Papa fashion, the exhibition addresses big ideas in a way that is fun and interactive.”

“Te Taiao Nature is all about sparking curiosity, wonder, and positive action as we embrace our role as kaitiaki of this precious land,” says Dr Waugh.

Te Papa has worked closely with iwi, communities, and researchers, and with a huge range of innovative companies, to create Te Taiao Nature.

Mr Martin says the exhibition also builds on Te Papa’s long-standing partnership with the Earthquake Commission and GNS Science.

“EQC have worked with us to bring visitors the latest understanding of earthquakes, their impacts, and how to stay safe. GNS has brought their geological expertise, as visitors experience the huge forces that continue to shape our very active islands,” says Mr Martin.

EQC’s Director, Resilience Research Dr Hugh Cowan, says they are proud to be working with Te Papa to develop Rūaumoko Active Land for Te Taiao Nature.

“One of EQC’s key functions is educating about natural disasters and ways to reduce natural disaster damage. By working with Te Papa for more than 20 years, we’re connecting with New Zealanders to raise natural hazard awareness,” says Dr Cowan.

“Rūaumoko Active Land will provide an innovative and interactive experience on the risks of natural disasters and the steps people need to take to prepare themselves and their homes.”


Te Taiao Nature – an exhibition in four parts

  • Te Ika Whenua Unique NZ

Visitors will experience what’s weird and wonderful about our wildlife, from the gigantic to the flightless, from multiple species of moa to a plethora of moths. They’ll also discover the abundant whales and dolphins in our seas, and learn about how Zealandia split from Gondwana, and how this isolation has made our plants and animals so unusual.

  • Rūaumoko Active Land

Visitors will enter the realm of Rūaumoko, god of volcanoes and earthquakes, and explore the geological forces that shape our land and how we need to act in response. The beloved Earthquake House returns, revamped to be more interactive and to reflect our latest understanding of quake action.

  • Te Kōhanga Nest

At the heart of the exhibition is a 70-square-metre, 4-metre-high “nest” woven together from recycled materials. It symbolises the fragility of our natural world, its beauty and power – and hope for the future. Here visitors will be surrounded by beautiful bird song and images, and in the centre will be a whole but fractured moa egg. One of the nation’s most precious taonga, it is a symbol of lost mauri [life force] but also of hope.

  • Ngā Kaitiaki Guardians

This inspiring exhibition looks at some of the big environmental challenges that face us, such as pests, water quality, and climate change, and what New Zealanders are doing to care for their own backyard. Visitors will leave the exhibition energised to play their part as kaitiaki [guardians] of our natural world. The colossal squid, a much loved favourite and the only complete specimen of its kind on display in the world, returns following a refresh.

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