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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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Kea plumage

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Seen from above, kea are well camouflaged – they have green-brown plumage with just a red rump patch above the tail. The drab colours are no doubt to avoid the attention of birds of prey, in particular the now-extinct giant Haast’s eagle. However, the feathers under their wings are ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Brown kiwi

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

In the North Island, the brown kiwi is the most numerous kiwi, although it has become confined to three inland areas. It is quite an aggressive little bird, with spiky plumage. It is a proficient runner, and when alarmed can outrun a human being and zigzag at the same time. It has even been known...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Feather cloak

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

This kahu huruhuru (feather cloak), made in the late 19th century, uses the feathers of kererū (wood pigeons) and kākā. The red kākā feathers were valued for their beauty, and because red was associated with chiefs. Listen to the call of the kākā. Sound file from

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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Muriel Fisher

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

During the 1950s and 1960s Muriel and Bill Fisher established a fine collection of over 700 native plants in their garden on the North Shore of Auckland Harbour. Concerned for the future of some rare plants, Muriel Fisher wrote Gardening with New Zealand plants, shrubs and trees to ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Living in a bush camp

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Living conditions in a typical bush camp were crowded. Often a gang of men slept and ate in one large hut. Around the edge were two tiers of bunks, while a large table dominated the centre of the room. As well as being used for meals, it was a place to play cards, read, write letters and talk.

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Mauri stone

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

This mauri stone was found on Moutohorā (Whale Island) in the Bay of Plenty. Māori believed that the life principle or mauri of a forest, tree or waterway could be concentrated into a stone or other object for protection. Sound file from Radio ...

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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Tōtara tree

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

The tōtara is associated with strength and grandeur. It is considered the greatest of all the trees in Tāne’s forest. Listen to Huirangi Waikerepuru from Taranaki and Te Āti Awa tribes explain the proverb, ‘Ka hinga te tōtara o te wao nui o Tāne’ (the mighty tōtara...

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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Protesting at Pureora

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

In order to stop the logging of virgin forest at Pureora, protesters perched in the trees with camping gear in 1978. They received widespread public support. Listen to local MP Ian Shearer expressing his concern over the logging plans. Sound file from

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Rewi Maniapoto with huia feathers

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

This portrait of Rewi Maniapoto, chief of the Ngāti Maniapoto tribe, shows him wearing a pair of huia feathers, a mark of high status. Listen to Henere Haumana imitating the call of the huia. Sound file from Radio New Zealand 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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Flock of bar-tailed godwits

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

A large flock of godwits settles on the shelly beach of Miranda, on the Firth of Thames coast near Auckland. Eastern bar-tailed godwits arriving from Alaska need to feed intensively to replace the reserves lost during their long flight. They also need to ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Home-grown wind and solar power

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Photographed in 1984, Frank Cresswell of Petone was heading for energy self-sufficiency, using a variety of methods to harness Mother Nature’s energy in his back yard. His solar panels heated water to 80°C in summer and 50°C in winter, and the ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Charles Fleming, paleontologist

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Scientist Charles Fleming looks over a collection of fossils. A versatile scientist, Fleming became chief paleontologist of the Geological Survey in Wellington in 1952 and specialised in studying living and fossil molluscs. Listen to Fleming explain why there are few terrestrial fossil deposits ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Heather Nicholson

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Geologist Heather Nicholson stands in front of greywacke outcrops on Waiheke Island, near Auckland. In 1953 she wrote her master’s thesis on the island’s geology and in 2003, exactly 50 years later, she submitted her PhD thesis with the title, ‘The ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Measuring fish

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

A fisheries official measures a fish aboard the Taiko Maru No 2. The industry has become increasingly regulated since the 1980s and fishermen must keep detailed records of their catches. Listen to an interview with the director of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries at the time, ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Hunting sperm whales

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Whalers were attracted to New Zealand by the numerous sperm whales to the north and east of North Cape. This engraving by Joel Samuel Polack shows whaling in the area in 1838, when there were many American whalers. The American sea shanty in this sound clip refers to ‘a thousand whales off ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage