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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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North and South Island robins

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

New Zealand robins (toutouwai) have large heads with big dark eyes, a white dot above the bill and long slender legs. The male North Island robin (top) is grey with an off-white patch on the belly. The female is slightly paler, with an off-white patch on her breast. The male South Island robin (...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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First to climb Aoraki/Mt Cook

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Jack Clarke (left), George Graham (centre) and Tom Fyfe (right) pose at the Hermitage the day after their successful climb of Aoraki/Mt Cook on Christmas Day 1894. In the radio recording Tony Nolan tells the story of the last stages of the climb. Sound file: ‘Open Country programme ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Whitehead

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Whiteheads (pōpokotea) move through the forest in flocks, searching under the canopy for insects. They stay in contact with a continuous tuneful chatter. Whiteheads are found in the North Island and nearby islands. Sound file from Radio New ...

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 (PO ...

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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Tūī and its song

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

A tūī rests on the frond of a fern. Its melodious call inspired the saying 'Me he korokoro tūī' (like the throat of a tūī), which referred to someone with a beautiful singing voice. Sound file from Radio New Zealand Sound Archives Ngā ...

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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Scenic charms

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

New Zealand scenery has often been used to advertise the country to overseas tourists. This 1927 poster shows, from left, The Hermitage hotel at Aoraki/Mt Cook, a forest scene, and Mitre Peak in Milford Sound. European settlers were proud of the scenery in their adopted land, as shown in ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Tamatea sign

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

This sign, standing at Pōrangahau, has what is reputed to be the longest place name in the world. It refers to the renowned explorer Tamatea, and how he played his kōauau (flute) to his beloved on the hill in the background. Listen to a waiata (song) ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Gathering shellfish

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

These members of the Te Āti Awa iwi (tribe) are collecting shellfish from the Taranaki coast. In the early 1980s a synthetics fuel plant at Motunui, near Waitara, was set to pump industrial and sewage waste into the sea. Local Te Āti Awa objected, making ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Collecting toheroa

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

The large, sand-burrowing shellfish known as toheroa made such good eating (usually as a soup) that New Zealanders consumed them faster than the species could breed. From 1932 until 1993 the government imposed restrictions on harvesting, but these measures were not enough to halt the decline. ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Teardrop surf ski

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Many lifesaving aids, including the surf ski, were developed first in Australia and adapted in New Zealand. In the 1930s, Don Wright of the Piha Surf Life Saving Club designed this improved, teardrop-shaped ski, which had greater lift in the bow to cope with New Zealand’s rolling waves. ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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The end of the golden weather

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Bruce Mason began his famous solo play, The end of the golden weather (first performed in 1959), with the words: ‘Let me take you on a voyage into that territory of the heart that we call childhood.’ The play, which Mason performed over 1,000 times, was set on Auckland’s Takapuna ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Evacuation in Whakatāne

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

On 26 May 1960, three days after a tsunami from an earthquake in Chile caused damage along the New Zealand coast, a radio message warned that a tsunami from a major aftershock of that earthquake was about to hit the coast. These cars are jamming Hillcrest Road on the hillside above Whakatāne, ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Make your own Geiger counter

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

This DSIR booklet included instructions on how to make a cheap Geiger counter. For several years enthusiasts used their own counters, hoping that the ticking would suddenly speed up, indicating radioactivity. This sound file illustrates what happens when a ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Pick-and-shovel mining

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

These West Coast miners from the end of the 19th century pause in their labours. The traditional technique for extracting coal, which miners brought from Britain, depended entirely on muscle power. Miners chopped out coal with picks and then shovelled it ...

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 ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage