Ground-breaking nature zone opens in May

Mon 18 Feb 2019

The biggest change since the museum opened will be unveiled to the public on 11 May 2019.

Te Taiao Nature, our brand new $12 million nature zone, is a bold and immersive journey through the natural world of Aotearoa New Zealand, combining cutting-edge science with mātauranga Māori.

The 1,400-square-metre zone is a permanent new addition to the museum. Entry is free.

Yesterday, we revealed that a priceless moa egg, one of only 36 in the world, will be at the heart of the spectacular new space.

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Te Taiao Nature construction site with team members and Te Kōhanga Nest in the background, 2019. Photo by Jack Fisher. Te Papa

Te Taiao Nature will feature over 1,200 collection items from New Zealand’s natural world, along with dozens of brand-new interactive experiences, from creating your own tsunami to weighing in against a giant moa. It replaces the previous nature area, which closed in April 2018.

While the exhibition is completely new, two old favourites will return: the colossal squid and a revamped Earthquake House.

Te Taiao Nature is made up of four parts.

In Te Ika Whenua Unique NZ you will experience what’s weird and wonderful about our wildlife, from the gigantic to the flightless, from multiple species of moa to a plethora of moths. You’ll also discover the abundant whales and dolphins in our seas, and learn about how Zealandia split from Gondwana, and how this isolation has made our plants and animals so unusual.

In Rūaumoko Active Land you will enter the realm of Rūaumoko, god of volcanoes and earthquakes, and explore the geological forces that shape our land and how we need to act in response. The beloved Earthquake House returns, revamped to be more interactive and to reflect our latest understanding of quake action.

At the heart of the exhibition is Te Kōhanga Nest, a 70-square-metre, 4-metre-high “nest” woven together from recycled materials. It symbolises the fragility of our natural world, its beauty and power – and hope for the future. Here you will be surrounded by beautiful bird song and images, and in the centre will be a whole but fractured moa egg. One of the nation’s most precious taonga, it is a symbol of lost maurimauri life force but also of hope.

Ngā Kaitiaki Guardians is inspiring exhibition looks at some of the big environmental challenges that face us, such as pests, water quality, and climate change, and what New Zealanders are doing to care for their own backyard. You will leave the exhibition energised to play their part as kaitiaki [guardians] of our natural world.

The colossal squid, a much-loved favourite and the only complete specimen of its kind on display in the world, returns following a refresh.

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Moa egg from Wairau Bar, 2019. Photo by Jack Fisher. Te Papa

By the numbers

  • Collection items on display: 1,200+ which includes items on loan from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) and GNS Science
  • Age of the oldest specimen on display: 140 million years (giant ammonite – shelled relative of squid)
  • Physical and digital interactives: 40+
  • Total floor space: 1,400 square metres
  • Height of the zone: 9 metres high (highest point)
  • Width and height of the Nest: 70 square metres, 4 metres high
  • Businesses/organisations collaborating on this exhibition: 60+ and more than 150 individuals
  • Cost of the exhibition: close to $12 million
  • People who visited the old nature zone: 18.5 million visitors
  • Shakes of the old earthquake house: 1.3 million
  • The biggest change to Te Papa since it opened 21 years ago

Read the full press release