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May 20, 2019 | by  | in News | [ssba]

Te Papa’s Squid is Back and Better Than Ever

Te Taiao Nature, a brand-new Te Papa exhibition focused on natural history, opened on Saturday, 11 May.


The exhibition has “everything from collection items, to hands-on interactive exhibits, to deep-level content and digital labels,” according to Frith Williams, Te Papa’s Head of Experience Design + Content.


The themes sections incorporate New Zealand’s unique wildlife, volcanoes and earthquakes, birds and extinction, and climate change challenges and the future. The exhibition updates much of the science from the previous nature exhibition which it replaces.


The exhibition is designed progressively, so that New Zealand’s unique plants and animals are displayed before exhibits about threats to their existence. Susan Waugh, Head of Science at Te Papa, said, “We really wanted people to get the thrill of seeing biodiversity.”


Frith Williams said that developing the climate change space was “a challenge”, in terms of interactivity and being “uplifting”. According to Williams, Te Taiao was designed “in aware[ness] of different people’s needs.” Workshops were held throughout the country to test concepts to allow for broad appeal.


Te Taiao is a bilingual exhibition; all text is written in both English and Te Reo Māori. The exhibits incorporate Te Ao Māori into its displays. The ‘Whakarūaumoko Active Land’ display incorporates Māori myths about volcanoes, and a ‘mauri activator’ asks visitors to place their hands on a spiral to bring a screen to life.


Waugh said that one of the key questions in developing Te Taio was “How do we get the public to care about nature?” While information about extinction and climate change can be depressing, she said that there is a “focus on things that the public can take home, as well as the collectivity of action required.”


A survey question, such as “Petrol cars should be banned by 2050” gauges public views on topics; the data gathered is open source and provided to researchers.


Te Taio’s redevelopment cost $12 million. Entry is free.


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