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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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Franz Josef Glacier

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Franz Josef Glacier is one of the famous sights of Westland Tai Poutini National Park. Like Fox Glacier to the south, it is unusual because it reaches West Coast rainforest near its end, and the huge cascade of ice is fringed by ferns and trees. Listen to Philip Liner interviewing a guide...

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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Paparoa National Park

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Paparoa National Park, on the South Island’s West Coast, was founded in 1987. The Pancake Rocks, jutting into the sea, are among the park’s best-known sights. The limestone they are formed from underlies most of the landscape, and can be seen running diagonally up the hill to the left...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Earnslaw on Lake Wakatipu

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

The Earnslaw is a steamer that was built in Dunedin in the early 1900s, and launched on Lake Wakatipu in 1912. For over 50 years the boat carried people and freight to and from remote communities around the lake, but since the 1970s it has been mainly used for scenic cruises. ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Whistling frog

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

A native of south-eastern Australia and Tasmania, the brown whistling frog is the smallest of the three introduced frogs. Eggs are laid under water and hatch into free-swimming tadpoles, unlike the native species. Its call is a familiar sound on the South Island’s West Coast, as well as on ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Green and golden bell frog

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

The green and golden bell frog was introduced to Auckland from Sydney in the 1860s. The brownish eardrum shows clearly, just behind the eye. The female grows to 9 centimetres, and the smaller male to 6 centimetres. It lays thousands of eggs on water, and these hatch as small black tadpoles. With ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Southern bell frog

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

The southern bell frog is mainly green, with bronze markings and a warty back, and is native to south-eastern Australia and Tasmania. The most aquatic of the three introduced species, it has webbing on its hind toes. It catches insects near water by flicking out its long, sticky tongue. ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Chorus cicada

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

The largest New Zealand cicada is the chorus cicada (Amphipsalta zelandica). The length of its body with the wings folded is about 40 millimetres. Chorus cicadas gather in large numbers around the time they emerge from their nymph skins, from January. Common in the North Island and some ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Sand dune cicada and redtailed cicada songs

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Charles Fleming studied the songs of different cicadas. He found he could use differences in the songs to distinguish species, and similarities to group together related species. Listen to him play the call of the sand dune cicada (Rhodopsalta leptomera, top) and its relative the ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Brown kiwi

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Brown kiwi are found in some North Island forests. While the feathers of flying birds are flattened and smoothed for aerodynamic effect, kiwi feathers are hair-like and fluffed up for better insulation. Kiwi have tiny wings, and get about on muscular legs that have strong, heavy bones. Their long...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Kākāpō

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

New Zealand’s most unusual parrot is the nocturnal, flightless, vegetarian kākāpō. It is the heaviest parrot in the world. Males weigh 2 kilograms on average, but can reach 4 kilos. The females average 1.5 kilos. This male is feeding on the berries of a low-growing poroporo bush. But kā...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Tūī

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

New Zealand has relatively few native passerines (perching birds) compared to other regions. But one is well known – the tūī, a beautiful songster. The tūī and bellbird are related to Australian honeyeaters. Their ancestors probably flew or were blown across the Tasman Sea, and then ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Kauri felling

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Bushman Billy Mack takes a break while felling a giant kauri at Kauaeranga valley, Thames, in 1921. First, wedge-shaped ‘scarfs’ were cut into the trunk on the side the bushmen wanted the tree to fall. Then the trunk was sawn from the other side until the tree toppled. Listen ...

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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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 Ng...

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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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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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