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Studying cicadas.

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Entomologist Charles Fleming searches for small black cicadas of the Maoricicada genus in Otago’s Old Man Range. During the 1960s and 1970s he, his wife Peg, and entomologist John Dugdale carried out extensive surveys of cicadas. Fleming noted that the distribution of cicada ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Wing-clapping cicada

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

The largest cicadas in New Zealand, Amphipsalta, are descended from Australian ancestors. Males produce loud sounds by contracting and relaxing a pair of membranes on their abdomen. These cicadas also sing by clapping their wings against the ground or a branch. Listen to the song of one ...

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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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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Riroriro (grey warbler) and nest

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

The position of the riroriro’s nest was said to indicate the prevailing wind – the bird always placed the entrance away from the wind. Listen to the riroriro’s call. Like the pīpīwharauroa (shining cuckoo), the riroriro’s call signalled the arrival of spring and the time...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Tūī drinking nectar

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

The tūī reaches the nectar in a flax flower with its curved beak, extending its brush-tipped tongue. Its fine feathers above the bill become coated with yellow pollen, and the tūī then transfers pollen from one flower to another. Sound file from Birds of New Zealand. Compact ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Whitehead

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Whiteheads (pōpokotea) move through the forest in flocks, searching under the canopy for insects. They stay in contact with a continuous tuneful chatter. Whiteheads are found in the North Island and nearby islands. Sound file from Radio New ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Dawn chorus

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

In forest where native birds are plentiful, their chorus can be heard at dawn and dusk in the breeding season. There may be tūī (top), bellbirds (bottom), robins (right), yellowheads, whiteheads, brown creepers, saddlebacks, grey warblers and silvereyes taking part. Some species sing earlier or...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Grey warbler

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Grey warblers (riroriro) use cobwebs, lichen, twigs and leaves to build enclosed nests with a side entrance. As well as native forests, they have adapted to living in pine forests and well-planted urban gardens. Their trilling call is a familiar sign of spring. Sound file from Birds ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Muriel Fisher

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

During the 1950s and 1960s Muriel and Bill Fisher established a fine collection of over 700 native plants in their garden on the North Shore of Auckland Harbour. Concerned for the future of some rare plants, Muriel Fisher wrote Gardening with New Zealand plants, shrubs and trees to ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Mānuka honey

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Mānuka honey is produced by bees that feed on mānuka flowers. The honey from some areas has antibiotic properties. But the antibiotic compound leptospermone, found in the essential oil from mānuka, does not seem to be responsible for the biological activity of the honey. Listen to ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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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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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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Blackberry patch

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Listen to George Paul of Te Awamutu talk about the introduction of blackberries to the King Country. Blackberries were first noticed growing wild in New Zealand in 1899. Sound file from Radio New Zealand Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero. Any...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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When to plant and fish

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Traditionally, Māori measured time according to the nights rather than the days. Nightly cycles began with the new moon. Each night of a lunar month was named and described according to how favourable or unfavourable it was for fishing, eeling or planting. Te Matarēhua Wikiriwhi describes how M...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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A food for all seasons

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

This song ‘Ngā wehenga o te tau’ (the seasons) recalls the various types of traditional work for each season. Different types of food were collected according to the time of year; however, aruhe (fern root), shown piled up, was a reliable year-round staple. Sound file from

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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A symbol of patriotism

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

The Southern Cross has been incorporated into the design of the New Zealand Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, at the National War Memorial in Wellington. Crosses on the side of the tomb represent the warrior’s fallen companions as well as the stars in the ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Measuring fish

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

A fisheries official measures a fish aboard the Taiko Maru No 2. The industry has become increasingly regulated since the 1980s and fishermen must keep detailed records of their catches. Listen to an interview with the director of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries at the time, ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Brunner mine disaster, 1896

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

The photograph shows one of the first bodies to be recovered from the Brunner mine. The worst loss of life in New Zealand mining occurred at this mine on 26 March 1896. An explosion was heard at 9.30 a.m. Two men went underground to investigate and were later found unconscious from black damp, a ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Uplift of the foreshore

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Gordon Amner was a young farmhand, cutting scrub at the time of the 1931 earthquake. He rode into Napier in time to witness the fires spreading and uplift of the Ahuriri Lagoon. When the inner harbour was uplifted, these horse mussels were left high and dry. Listen to Gordon Amner recalling the ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage