About Collections OnlineMō ngā Kohinga Ipurangi

Collections Online has information on over one million artworks, objects, and specimens from Te Papa’s collections – from dinosaur teeth to contemporary art, buzzy bee to Xena.

Collection areas cover Taonga Māori, Pacific Cultures, New Zealand History, Photography, Art, Botany, and Zoology. These topics are complemented by over 190,000 images, with over 60,000 available for high-resolution download.

There’s also a wealth of information on related people, places, topics, species, and research from Te Papa.

About the data

Te Papa’s collections are vast, with more than two million items collected by Te Papa and its predecessors from the 1860s to today.

This means the documentation that accompanies a collection item can vary depending on when it was collected, what information came with it, and how recently the object has been accessed or researched.

Contact us if you have feedback or questions about any information you find on Collections Online.

Why don’t all collection items have images?

Te Papa’s collections are very large and incredibly varied. From microscopic lice to 22-metre-long artworks, the collections cover many sizes, shapes, and materials.

We’re working as fast as we can digitising items from the collections – but apart from time, there are a few other reasons images might not be available yet. These include:

1. Copyright

We are unable to display images of items that are still in copyright, without the copyright owner’s permission. It may be we can't track down the copyright holder (such as the original artist), or the copyright holder has declined Te Papa permission to display the image.

2. Cultural rights

As part of Te Papa’s principle of Mana Taonga, we do not release images of taonga without consulting the whānau, hapū or iwi that the taonga originates. Te Papa holds these taonga on behalf of the iwi.

3. Item access or fragility issues

Some collection items are more difficult to photograph or scan than others – this can be due to size, needing special reconstruction, or because they are very fragile. These cases must be dealt with very carefully, and can be very time-consuming.

4. Low use items

Some of our items are unlikely to be used for much other than comparative research. In these cases, the item may not be prioritised for digitisation.

Why are some of the images you do have so small, or just not very good?

Digital imaging of Te Papa’s collections started in the 1990s, but technology moves fast. The early digitised images of collection items are very small and are slowly being replaced with higher quality images. Similarly, some images have been taken for identification purposes only, and may not be suitable for reproduction. Get in touch with our Media Sales and Licensing team if you would like to enquire whether a higher quality image can be produced of a particular collection item.

What types of information do you have?

1. Objects and specimens

The core of Collections Online is Te Papa’s collections of objects and specimens. These are the items that have been acquired for the national collections, and are used for exhibition or research.

Find out more about our acquisition process and collection policy.

2. Topics

Topics are articles related to items in Te Papa’s collections. Topics can help you find out more about a theme relating to a group of items, or to find out more about the significance of an item in Te Papa’s collection.

3. Publications

Publications are published articles related to items or themes in Te Papa’s collections. For example, this is where you will find Tuhinga, the museum's scholarly journal.

4. People

In Collections Online, you can find information about people related to the collections. This may include artists, collectors, donors, historical figures, and makers. This makes it easier to browse for related items, and also find out a little about the people themselves.

5. Places

Items in Collections Online often include reference to place. This may be the place that the item was found or made, or the place where the maker was born. It’s possible to browse through places to find other items related to that location.

6. Categories

Categories are keywords related to collection items. Category keywords can help you find an item you’re searching for, or to browse through other items that share the same category.

7. Taxonomy

Taxonomy is the scientific classification of all plants and animals. Collections Online includes taxonomy information relating to our collections, so you can view specimen distribution on a map, or browse through the taxonomy to see other related specimens. To find out more about the Linnaean taxonomy, take a look at Wikipedia.

Can I use the images from Collections Online?

Images of taonga Māori

Images of taonga are of significant cultural importance to iwi. Te Papa requests that these images and associated information be used only for research, study, personal, and educational purposes.

Rights statements

All collection artworks and objects are accompanied by a rights statement. These statements let you know what you can and can’t do with the images.

All Rights Reserved

For images that have All Rights Reserved, and you would like to use the image, please follow the ‘Buy or License’ link to apply for use. Charges may apply.

Why you need to apply for the use of these images

Rights for the work may be:

  • controlled by the artist, the artist's estate, or other rights holders; or

  • unclear – Te Papa will do a more detailed analysis of the work’s rights history; or

  • covered by Te Papa’s Mana Taonga principle which supports the rights of holders of traditional knowledge to determine how the image may be used.

You need to make sure you don’t infringe on the rights of third parties before you use the image. Our image request process helps with this. Te Papa does not authorise the use of the image beyond the uses allowed by the “fair dealing” provisions of the New Zealand Copyright Act, 1994.

Creative Commons licenses

You may download and use Te Papa’s images of works with these licenses as long as you meet the conditions of the Creative Commons copyright licences. Fair dealing, as understood under the New Zealand Copyright Act 1994, also applies.

Attribution: You must include the attribution credit provided when you download the image.

No Known Copyright Restrictions

To the best of Te Papa’s knowledge, under New Zealand law:

  • there is no copyright or other intellectual property rights in this work in New Zealand; and

  • the work may be copied and otherwise reused in New Zealand without copyright or other intellectual property rights related restriction.

Te Papa will not be liable to you, on any legal basis (including negligence), for any loss or damage you suffer through your use of this material, except in those cases where the law does not allow us to exclude or limit our liability to you.

More information about copyright

We recommend these resources for more information:

Find more information about Te Papa's rights project on our blog, including how rights types are assigned. Or, if you have questions about the copyright status of an item, or believe you are the copyright owner of an item in the collections, please get in touch: copyright@tepapa.govt.nz. We will assist where we can.

Other useful links: