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Male and female paradise shelduck

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

A paradise shelduck pair usually stays close together, each bird calling in turn as they move about. The male’s call is deeper than the female’s. The female has a white head, whereas the male’s head is glossy green-black. Like other shelducks they have a long goose-like neck.

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Kingfisher in flight

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

The speed of a kingfisher or kōtare when diving on moving prey is legendary. This one is returning to its perch after catching food. They call from high lookouts with a distinctive ‘kek-kek-kek’ that carries afar. Close to the nest they make an unusual whirring call. Sound ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Roimata toroa pattern

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

One story from the Ngāti Porou tribe which links back to their ancestors tells of how the ancestor Pourangahua brought kūmara (sweet potato) to New Zealand. The two sacred albatrosses which accompanied him were the source of this tukutuku design, known as roimata toroa (albatross tears). Listen...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Poisonous garden plants

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Most plant poisonings in New Zealand occur when young children eat parts of poisonous plants growing in their local environment, such as the garden or the grounds of their kindergarten or school. Many commonly grown plants like kōwhai, rhododendron, laburnum, ivy, daphne and arum lily are ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Giant kauri

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

This large kauri tree is at Waiau Falls Scenic Reserve, Coromandel Peninsula. Trees like this are believed to symbolise Tāne, propping up the sky from the earth. Listen to Canon Pāora Temuera of Ngāti Raukawa and Te Arawa recite a karakia (prayer) that was formerly heard echoing around the ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Juvenile tuatara

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Researchers at Victoria University of Wellington keep tuatara in enclosures, in semi-natural conditions, for up to five years after they hatch. Safe from predators, these juveniles have a higher survival rate than hatchlings in the wild. They will eventually return to their home island, or will ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Pepe tuna (pūriri moth)

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

This is a male pepe-tuna (pūriri moth, Aenetus virescens). Listen to Hirini Melbourne sing about the ghostly night-time appearance of this giant green moth (its wingspan reaches 15 centimetres). Pepe-tuna nunui Kēhua kākāriki Wairua ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Juvenile North Island saddlebacks

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

The plumage of young North Island saddlebacks (tīeke) is similar to that of adults, but lacks the paler line along the top edge of the saddle. As they grow, the red wattles at the base of the bill become larger. South Island saddleback juveniles are chocolate brown over most of their body. When ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Yellowhead

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Yellowheads (mōhua) live in the South Island and Stewart Island, where their musical call was once heard in most forested regions – especially mature beech forest. They nest in tree holes, which makes them vulnerable to predators, and they are now limited to a few mountain forest regions ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Brown creeper with chick

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Brown creepers (pīpipi) move about in groups in the forest and scrub, calling to each other constantly as they hunt for food. Like yellowheads and whiteheads, they have sweet, melodious calls. Sound file from Birds of New Zealand. Compact disc. © Viking Sevenseas NZ, 1980 (...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Grey warbler

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Grey warblers (riroriro) use cobwebs, lichen, twigs and leaves to build enclosed nests with a side entrance. As well as native forests, they have adapted to living in pine forests and well-planted urban gardens. Their trilling call is a familiar sign of spring. Sound file from Birds ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Eels at Wairewa

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

These eels have been hung out to dry at Wairewa (Lake Forsyth). Wairewa was an important source of eels for South Island Māori. Eels were caught in hīnaki (eel pots), or by using a bob made of noke waiū (big white worms), split flax and rushes (wīwī). Listen to Riki Ellison from the ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Pou outside Waitomo

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

This pou (supporting post) from Waitomo represents Tāne, god of the forest. The god was often acknowledged by Māori when they took resources from the forest. Listen to the karakia (incantation), which was said to lift the tapu from a house built from Tāne’s wood. Its purpose was to ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Erebus recovery operation

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Eight Federated Mountain Club volunteers helped recover bodies after an Air New Zealand DC10 crashed on Mt Erebus, Antarctica, in November 1979. Their skills in mountain rescue were needed because of the site’s icy conditions and crevasses. Hugh Logan, one of the team, recalls the operation...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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‘Towards Banks Peninsula’

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Denis Glover was one of the writers who came of age in the 1930s and began to explore the meaning and mythology of the land. In this extract from his 1958 poem ‘Towards Banks Peninsula’, he describes a walk from Port Levy to Pigeon Bay. The photo looks across Lyttelton Harbour to ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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The Battle of the Birds

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

These three birds are Auckland Island shags. Shags (kawau) feature in the story of the ‘Battle of the Birds’. The kawau had an argument with the fantail (tīwaiwaka) about whether seabirds or land birds had better food. The tīwaiwaka was so clever in his argument that the ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Tōtara proverb

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

This is a tōtara tree. Hear an explanation of the proverb, ‘Kua hinga te tōtara o Te Waonui a Tāne’ (the tōtara in the great forest of Tāne has fallen). Sound file from Radio New Zealand Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero. Any...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Ian Gordon

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Victoria University of Wellington became an important centre of New Zealand English scholarship under Professor Ian Gordon, who taught there from 1937 to 1974. He also wrote columns in the Listener magazine and had his own radio show on the topic, which has long been of interest to ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Acronyms

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Many new words have been generated in the form of abbreviations and acronyms – especially from the names of government agencies. Work and Income, the employment and income support division of the Ministry of Social Development, was previously and widely known as WINZ, an abbreviation of ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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'I'm absolutely buggered'

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

In 1956 All Black Peter Jones earned himself a place in history, not just for his rugby playing, but for words uttered after a test match win over South Africa's Springboks. Straight after the game, Jones told a radio journalist – in true Kiwi bloke form – 'I'm absolutely ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage