Tuhinga 29, 2018

Our current issue of Tuhinga. Articles cover a new species of shearwater, Japanese art, archaeological excavations on the Coromandel Peninsula in the 1950s, and Alexander McKay, New Zealand’s first scientific photographer.

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Contents

A new species of Pliocene shearwater (Aves: Procellariidae) from New Zealand
by Alan J.D. Tennyson and Al A. Mannering

New locality records for two species of protected weevils, Anagotus fairburni (Brookes, 1932) and Hadramphus stilbocarpae Kuschel, 1971 (Coleoptera: Curculionidae), from southern Fiordland, New Zealand
by Colin M. Miskelly, Alan J.D. Tennyson, and Colin R. Bishop

Alexander McKay: New Zealand’s first scientific photographer
by Simon Nathan

Rising sun at Te Papa: the Heriot collection of Japanese art
by David Bell and Mark Stocker

Characterisation of Fifteen Sources of Japanese Obsidian: PIXE-PIGME analysis, and identification of archaeological specimens
by B.F. Leach, S. Oda, and J.R. Bird

In search of the North Island Archaic: Archaeological excavations at Sarah’s Gully, Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand from 1956 to 1960
by Janet Davidson

Increasing visitor engagement in a contemporary art exhibit through a participatory activity
by Edith MacDonald

Evaluation of Contraception: Uncovering the collection of Dame Margaret Sparrow
by Stephanie Gibson

A new species of Pliocene shearwater (Aves: Procellariidae) from New Zealand

Alan J.D. Tennyson and Al A. Mannering

We describe two partial but well-preserved Late Pliocene fossil skeletons from Taranaki, New Zealand, as a new species of seabird. In structure, these bones match those of a shearwater (Procellariiformes: Procellariidae) but the new taxon is distinguished from all known extant and extinct taxa by a unique combination of features. It was a gliding species as large as the largest species of extant shearwater. It represents the first pre-Pleistocene record of a new shearwater taxon from the western Pacific and helps reveal the history of shearwater evolution. Today, New Zealand has the greatest diversity of breeding shearwater species in the world, and the new fossil adds weight to other evidence that shearwaters have a long history in this region.

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New locality records for two species of protected weevils, Anagotus fairburni (Brookes, 1932) and Hadramphus stilbocarpae Kuschel, 1971 (Coleoptera: Curculionidae), from southern Fiordland, New Zealand

Colin M. Miskelly, Alan J.D. Tennyson, and Colin R. Bishop

The flax weevil Anagotus fairburni (Brookes, 1932) and knobbled weevil Hadramphus stilbocarpae Kuschel, 1971 were among the first New Zealand insects to be granted legal protection. Both are large flightless species with narrow host–plant requirements. Their disjunct distributions are probably the result of predation by introduced rodents, with populations of both having apparently been extirpated by ship rats (Rattus rattus) at one documented site (Taukihepa/Big South Cape Island). Within Fiordland, flax weevils were previously known from a single small island in Breaksea Sound, and knobbled weevils had been reported from five outer islands, from Secretary Island south to Resolution Island. We report the presence of both species in Dusky Sound, and flax weevils in Chalky and Preservation Inlets, based on surveys of 134 islands in 2016 and 2017. Signs of flax weevil feeding were recorded on 56 widely scattered islands, with live or dead animals found on seven of these during the limited search time available. A single knobbled weevil was found at night on a small island in the Seal Islands, southwest of Anchor Island. The status of both weevil species is discussed in relation to the past and present distribution and control of rodents and stoats.

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Alexander McKay: New Zealand’s first scientific photographer

Simon Nathan

Alexander McKay (1841–1917) explored many parts of New Zealand while working as a fossil collector and geologist for the New Zealand government between 1873 and 1902. He was also a keen amateur photographer, taking photographs of geological features and documenting the impact of the 1888 and 1901 Canterbury earthquakes. He invented a telephoto lens about 1890, and later developed techniques for photographing fossils and microscopic thin sections of rocks. All of McKay’s varied photography was aimed at illustrating the scientific work he was undertaking, and as such he can be designated New Zealand’s earliest scientific photographer.

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Rising sun at Te Papa: the Heriot collection of Japanese art

David Bell and Mark Stocker

In 2016, the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa (Te Papa) acquired more than 60 Japanese artworks from the private collection of Ian and Mary Heriot. The works make a significant addition to the graphic art collections of the national museum. Their variety and quality offer a representative overview of the art of the Japanese woodblock print, and potentially illustrate the impact of Japanese arts on those of New Zealand in appropriately conceived curatorial projects. Additionally, they inform fresh perspectives on New Zealand collecting interests during the last 40 years.

After a discussion of the history and motivations behind the collection, this article introduces a representative selection of these works, arranged according to the conventional subject categories popular with nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Japanese audiences. Bijin-ga pictures of beautiful women, genre scenes and kabuki-e popular theatre prints reflect the hedonistic re-creations of ukiyo ‘floating world’ sensibilities in the crowded streets of Edo. Kachōga ‘bird and flower pictures’ and fukeiga landscapes convey Japanese sensitivities to the natural world. Exquisitely printed surimono limited editions demonstrate literati tastes for refined poetic elegance, and shin-hanga ‘new prints’ reflect changes in sensibility through Japan’s great period of modernisation. In sum, these works offer holistic appreciations of the diversity of pictorial interests, the technical and aesthetic triumphs of the polychrome woodblock print, and the emergence and ability of Japanese arts to engage international viewers today.

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Characterisation of Fifteen Sources of Japanese Obsidian: PIXE-PIGME analysis, and identification of archaeological specimens

B.F. Leach, S. Oda, and J.R. Bird

Samples of obsidian from 15 different volcanic sources in Kyushu, Honshu and Hokkaido were subjected to analysis using the PIXE–PIGME method. Eighteen elements were resolved for each source, and a series of statistical techniques was used to assess the distinctiveness of the sources. It was found that the sources could be separated into three groups, each with sub-sources that are virtually indistinguishable from each other. The first group of four sources originates in the Shinshu area, the second group of two sources is from the Izu Islands, and the third group contains two sources on Kyushu. Each of these groups is easily distinguished from the others. Finally, nine obsidian artefacts from three archaeological sites were analysed and compared with these sources. Eight of these could be allocated to a source, while one proved to be from an unknown source.

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In search of the North Island Archaic: Archaeological excavations at Sarah’s Gully, Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand from 1956 to 1960

Janet Davidson

Excavations led by Jack Golson at Sarah’s Gully on the Coromandel Peninsula between 1957 and 1960 represented a landmark in New Zealand archaeology. A total area of about 1350 m2 was hand-excavated at six separate locations, recorded as three separate sites. Stratified deposits are dated to various points between about ad 1300 and 1800.

Artefactual remains show little change through time, with continuity in use of the important basalt resource at nearby Tahanga hill for stone adzes. Although moa and the North Island adzebill (Aptornis otidiformis) soon disappeared from the record, the faunal remains as a whole reflect continuity in fishing, shellfish-gathering and the taking of birds. The original forest was cleared very soon after people arrived. Storage pits, probably for kūmara (sweet potato), were present throughout the sequence. Although the headland at the entrance to the bay was partly fortified during the middle of the sequence, the defences appear token in nature.

Overall, the excavations revealed a way of life that involved periodic visits to fish, to garden, and to make and repair stone tools. This changed very little over the centuries.

Read ‘In search of the North Island Archaic: archaeological excavations at Sarah’s Gully, Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand, from 1956 to 1960’ on Collections Online

Increasing visitor engagement in a contemporary art exhibit through a participatory activity

Edith MacDonald

Over the last decade, there has been a rise in participatory activities in museums and art galleries. A common form of participatory activity is to ask visitors questions, based on the objects, and their answers remain in the gallery for subsequent visitors to experience. However, there have been few empirical studies to assesses the impact a participatory activity has on visitor experience. This study, carried out at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington, in 2012, compared visitor behaviour (time in exhibition and at objects) and visitor cognition (satisfaction, elaboration, relevancy, perception of the art exhibition) during a participatory and control period. Participants in the activity had significantly greater levels of elaboration and stayed almost three times as long in the exhibition compared to the control period. The activity resonated with a youthful audience, with two-thirds of participants under 30. While there is some concern by museum staff that participatory activities may be frivolous or detract from the art, the findings of this study indicate they are successful at fostering a deeper engagement in visitors.

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Evaluation of Contraception: Uncovering the collection of Dame Margaret Sparrow

Stephanie Gibson

This paper explores the context, development and evaluation of Contraception: Uncovering the collection of Dame Margaret Sparrow, an exhibition at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa (Te Papa) in 2015–16.

Collections and exhibitions of contraceptive material are rare in New Zealand museums. In the case of Te Papa, strategic acquisitions since 2004 have enabled the display of contraceptive objects, culminating in the stand-alone exhibition Contraception, based on Dame Margaret’s extensive collection.

To guide the exhibition’s development, formative evaluation was conducted by members of the exhibition team, including the curator/author. Having exhibition staff talk directly to visitors enabled immediate understanding of our audiences, and ensured that staff could confidently champion the findings at a senior approval level and feed the results directly into the exhibition’s development. Summative evaluation followed in order to understand the impacts of the exhibition.

The paper details the mechanics and findings of both evaluations, and the exhibition’s successes. It also acknowledges that curatorial assumptions regarding visitors’ perceptions of the exhibition were largely counteracted by the results.

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