Listen: The Politics of Collecting – from Banks and Solander to Today

Hear botanists and researchers discuss the shifting politics of collecting and classifying plants, from both Māori and Pākehā perspectives.

In 2019, Aotearoa New Zealand will acknowledge 250 years since the first onshore meetings between Māori and Europeans. This is a time to share, debate, and reflect – to speak openly about our history and enable a more balanced telling of our stories.

During the Endeavour’s first voyage to Aotearoa, Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander collected plant specimens – some of which are in Te Papa’s collections. Along with their modern equivalents, these are charged objects: What value do they still hold for researchers today? How do we square this with the agendas of Empire and Enlightenment that motivated their collection?

The panellists trace the changing motivations for collecting specimens for museums, botanic gardens and seed banks, from Banks and Solander to now. They discuss how do these practices contribute to current research and the pressing conservation issues we face.


Leon Perrie – Botany Curator, Te Papa

Priscilla Wehi – Conservation biologist, Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research

Hēmi Whaanga – Associate Professor, Te Pua Wānanga ki te Ao (The Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Studies), University of Waikato

Peter de Lange – Associate Professor, School of Environmental and Animal Sciences, Unitec

Facilitator: Bronwyn Labrum – Head of New Zealand & Pacific Cultures, Te Papa

This event was presented in partnership with the Taxonomy for Plant Conservation – Ruia mai i Rangiātea Conference.