Curriculum links

Learning area


Which strands will it fit with?

Living World, Physical World, Planet Earth and Beyond.

Key Competencies

Thinking - Students will develop their understanding of geology and the flora and fauna of New Zealand and the world.

Participating and contributing - Students will participate in activities that investigate sustainability and how their individual choices and actions impact on the environment.

Levels of achievement

Levels 1-4

Year groups

Years 1-8

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Which topics of study can it support?

New Zealand Natural Environment
Earth Science

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How long might this take?

Allow 30 minutes.

Where do I find it?

  • Level 2, at the end of Mountains to Sea.
  • Lost? Ask a Te Papa Host.

Why should I take my class to visit this?

  • As one of four Discovery Centres at Te Papa, NatureSpace provides an interactive area featuring objects, stories, and concepts about science and natural history.
  • It is a fun way of appreciating the subject of science and the natural environment.
  • A Te Papa staff member is available to show you around and help.
  • The whole class can easily fit into the space.

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What is there to do there?

  • Explore ‘Spice of life’ and see some of the world's wonderful wildlife. In this section, you can investigate drawers containing rock pool creatures and insects. You can also look at some of the objects under video microscopes and handle them.
  • In the ‘Wondercabinet’, see some personal collections called ‘Wonderboxes’. One of the themes in NatureSpace is collecting, and the display of Wonderboxes showcases the amazing and diverse objects that people have collected from the natural environment.
  • Investigate life cycles in the section ‘Growing up’. You can open drawers to see the life cycles of different creatures and handle some objects to help understand how animals have different life cycles. You will see the eggs of some very unusual creatures and investigate their homes.
  • Explore ‘Life's long story’ showing a time line of life on Earth and see how it has changed over millions of years.
  • View ‘Primates - our mates’, a section showing the evolution of humans from primates. Compare your footprint with 'Lucy'
  • Investigate 'Big Foot – O Waewae Rarahi'. The aim of this area is to show ways in which you can reduce your “Ecological Footprint.”  There are four interactives that highlight every day ways that you can help the environment, from food packaging to saving electricity and recycling. 
  • Have a go recycling! Children can sort out their rubbish in to the different groups that can be recycled. The idea is to show children how much of their weekly refuse they can recycle instead of throw away.
  • Explore ‘Every rock tells a story’, and see how different rocks are formed.
  • Play educational interactives on the computers and explore educational websites about New Zealand and the world that look at the natural environment. 
  • Play games, read books, and do puzzles that are related to the natural environment.
  • Touch a sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous rock. Try lifting a huge pumice rock!

What should I know about this?

  • NatureSpace focuses on the natural environment.
  • NatureSpace is a lively, bright place with plenty of hands-on exhibits and activity spaces and there is plenty for adults to do too!
  • NatureSpace provides computer access to Te Papa's online database Tai Awatea | Knowledge Net, as well as access to websites and computer programs. This centre also offers reference books and magazines associated with the natural environment.
  • NatureSpace is located on Level 2 at the end of Mountains to Sea.

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Possible topics for discussion

  • At ‘Spice of Life’ you can discuss why some animals have internal skeletons for support and why some have external skeletons for support, protection, and camouflage. You can also discuss New Zealand’s native species and the different species that have been introduced. Can they affect each other?
  • At the Wondercabinet you can discuss why people make collections. Pose the questions of why would you make a collection and what would you collect?
  • Explore ‘Life's long story’ and discuss the changes the world has been through. Ask students if they can identify different times when change has occurred, such as the death of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Which creatures existed at the same time as the dinosaurs and still exist today? (For example, insects.) Discuss the extinctions of creatures and the possible reasons for the extinctions, such as a meteorite hitting the Earth’s surface, disease, or lack of food.
  • At ‘Primates - our mates’ discuss the evolution of humans from primates. If there is going to be further evolutionary changes to people, what are we going to change into? Draw pictures of what we might change into.
  • At ‘Every rock tells a story’ ask students if they can identify the three different types of rocks (igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic) and where they can find such rocks as basalt, sandstone, and greenstone. What is their favourite rock and how is it formed?
  • Find the Dodo. Why did it become extinct so quickly?
  • At the 'Big Foot' segment discuss energy saving techniques. Over a long period of time 'eco' bulbs save electricity and energy.
  • Why recycle? Examine the decomposition wall to identify items that take the longest to decompose. What items decompose quickly? What can the waste be recycled into?

Further information

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Related objects

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