Our Experts – Directory of Curators 

Find a Te Papa expert by selecting a collection area below.

Enquiries

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Contact a Te Papa expert via the Enquiry Centre

Art

Athol McCredie
Curator Photography

Athol’s expertise is in New Zealand photography, particularly 1940 to the present. Current research includes the history of the museum’s photography collection, the photographs of Māori and their treatment by the museum, and the personal documentary photography of the 1960s and 1970s.

Athol McCredie

Chelsea Nichols
Curator Modern Art

Chelsea Nichols is an art historian whose collection-based research addresses the relationships between international and New Zealand modern art in the period between 1900-1970. A particular area of interest is in histories of collecting and museum display, especially in the overlaps between art and other disciplines. Current research includes examining the relationship between art and natural history exhibitions, the influence of Surrealism on New Zealand art, and representations of the body in modern visual culture.

Chelsea Nichols

Justine Olsen
Curator Decorative Art & Design

Justine Olsen’s expertise lies in decorative arts and design, with particular reference to New Zealand, both historical and contemporary. Current research includes New Zealand’s contribution to modernism and to the arts and crafts movement.

Justine Olsen

Lissa Mitchell
Curator Historical Documentary Photography

Lissa is an art historian whose main research is photography of the colonial period and how it relates to the present day. Specific research areas include the depiction of children in historical photography, crime in colonial photography, early women photographers and photographic histories in the country’s southern region.

Lissa Mitchell

 

Mark Stocker
Curator Historical International Art

Mark is an art historian whose research is in late 18th to early-mid 20th century art, particularly British and New Zealand art and especially sculpture, public monuments and numismatics (coins and medals). He has a broader interest in Victorian and Edwardian art and Art Deco. His current research includes Queen Victoria statuary in New Zealand, the sculpture of Kathleen Scott (widow of Scott of the Antarctic) and New   Zealand's coinage.

Mark Stocker

Megan Tamati-Quennell
Curator Modern & Contemporary Māori & Indigenous Art

Megan has specialist interests in the work of the post war (1945) first generation Māori artists, Mana wahine; Māori women artists of the 1970s and 1980s, the ‘Māori Internationals’; the artists who developed with the advent of biculturalism, a postmodern construct peculiar to New Zealand and global Indigenous art with particular focus on modern and contemporary Indigenous art in Australia, Canada and the United States.
Iwi affiliation: Te Ātiawa, Ngāi Tahu

Megan Tamati-Quennell

Rebecca Rice
Curator Historical New Zealand Art

Rebecca is an art historian who specialises in New Zealand’s colonial art. She is interested in New Zealand's representation at international exhibitions, particularly through the displays of fine art, photography and ethnographic artefacts, as well as how artists used these exhibitions to promote their own practice. Current research includes the art produced during the New Zealand Wars of the nineteenth century, and the impact of impressionism on New   Zealand artists at home and abroad.

Rebecca Rice

Sarah Farrar
Curator Contemporary Art

Sarah is a curator of contemporary New Zealand and international art. She has a particular interest in examining exhibition histories and the social reception of contemporary art. Her current research projects include examining historical and contemporary approaches to art collection displays, and exploring innovative approaches to art education and interpretation.

Sarah Farrar

History

Claire Regnault
Senior Curator Creative Industries
Claire's research interests lie primarily in New Zealand's fashion history and the associated fashion industries, including retail, marketing, publishing and photography. She is currently researching Te Papa's 19th century dress collection.
Claire Regnault
Kirstie Ross
Curator Modern New Zealand

Kirstie’s area of expertise is the social and cultural history of New Zealand, especially the 20th century. She is currently researching the material culture of the New Zealand home front during the First World War as well as other aspects of the war. A personal research interest focuses on environmental history.

 Kirstie Ross
Lynette Townsend
Curator Communities & Diversity

Lynette’s research interest is in New Zealand’s cultural and social diversity. Exhibition-based research has focused on the Italians and Scots in New Zealand, as well as 20th century New Zealand youth and Air New Zealand. Current research explores the personal stories and history associated with the material culture of childhood.

 Lynette Townsend
Michael Fitzgerald
Curator Colonial New Zealand

Michael has developed in-depth knowledge of New Zealand history and of the Museum's historical objects. He is involved in public programmes planned to mark the First World War and is currently researching the life stories of soldiers whose portraits were taken by the Berry & Co. studio in Wellington prior to their war service.

 Michael Fitzgerald
Stephanie Gibson
Curator Contemporary Life & Culture

Stephanie is currently researching the material and visual culture of twentieth century protest in New Zealand as well as contemporary views of the First World War. Both projects are part of a wider focus on the material culture of conflict, protest and reform. Her continuing museological research focuses on museums and community participation.

 Stephanie Gibson

Taonga Māori

Awhina Tamarapa
Curator Textiles, Weaving & Māori Instruments

Awhina specialises in the areas of Māori weaving, taonga pūoro (musical instruments) and stone tool technology. Her continuing interests are in developing greater opportunities for Māori access and engagement with museums, and in exploring new ways of exhibiting Mātauranga Māori.
Iwi affiliation: Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Ruanui, Ngāti Pikiao

Awhina Tamarapa
Dougal Austin
Curator Taonga Tuturu 19-20th Century

Dougal (Kāti Māmoe, Kāi Tahu) has a particular research interest in the origins, development, cultural use and significance of hei tiki, an interest he will continue to develop. His current work has included a tour of the Kura Pounamu exhibition in China.
Iwi affiliation: Kāti Mamoe, Kāi Tahu, Waitaha

Dougal Austin
Matiu Baker
Curator Historic Māori Visual Materials

Matiu has a broad interest in the many areas of Mātauranga Māori. Recent research has included work on Māori photographs and photography of Māori in nineteenth century New Zealand.
Iwi affiliation: Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Te Āti Awa, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Whakaue

Matiu Baker
Puawai Cairns
Curator Contemporary Māori Culture

Puawai is currently researching the stories of the several hundred Māori soldiers who served in the Frist World War. She has a long-standing research interest in the contemporary Māori world, the diversity of Māori activity over recent decades, and the potential for collecting objects relating to this period.
Iwi affiliation: Ngāti Pukenga, Ngāti Ranginui, Ngaiterangi

Puawai Cairns
Rhonda Paku
Senior Curator Mātauranga Māori & Deputy Kaihautū

Rhonda guides the research, care, and management of the Māori collection and is responsible for ensuring Māori knowledge, customs and values are imbedded across Te Papa’s exhibitions, experiences and public programmes.

Rhonda is currently holding the role of Deputy Kaihautū. She shares responsibility for the cultural leadership and strategic management of Te Papa, alongside the Acting Chief Executive and Kaihautū. Rhonda provides cultural leadership in the implementation of the principle of Mana Taonga across the organisation, and also supports post Treaty settlement negotiations with iwi and Māori stakeholders; the Karanga Aotearoa Repatriation Programme; the care of Rongomaraeroa (Te Papa’s marae) and National Services Te Paerangi.
Iwi affiliation: Ngāti Kahungunu, Tuhoe, Ngāti Ruapani

Rhonda Paku

Sciences

Alan Tennyson
Curator Vertebrates

Alan's research covers most vertebrate animal groups but his particular expertise is in fossil and living birds. His current research focuses on the history and origins of New Zealand's animals and the conservation of seabirds in the South Pacific.

Alan Tennyson
Carlos Lehnebach
Curator Botany

Carlos is a botanist who studies the diversity, evolution and conservation of New Zealand flowering plants. His main groups of interest are terrestrial and epiphytic orchids, alpine plants, and plants shared with other land masses in the Southern Hemisphere.

 Carlos Lehnebach
Clive Roberts
Curator Vertebrates

Clive is particularly interested in the systematics and biogeography of fishes of the Pacific Ocean, including accurate identification and description of New Zealand fish fauna.  This work includes development of the National Fish Collection and its database, and results in the discovery of new fish species in the region. His research includes fishes of deep reefs, oceanic ridges and seamounts, and the biodiversity patterns in deep-sea fishes.

 Clive Roberts
Colin Miskelly
Curator Vertebrates

Colin is an ornithologist with broad interests, including conservation ecology, biogeography, and the history of science. An expert in bird identification, his research drove the creation of the website New Zealand Birds Online. Colin’s current research interests include the 2011 prion wreck, the phylogeny of prions (small seabirds), the history of legal protection of New Zealand wildlife, and the life and work of the naturalist Edgar Stead.

 Colin Miskelly
Heidi Meudt
Research Scientist, Botany

Heidi’s research focuses on the evolution and classification of native New Zealand flowering plants. She uses morphology, DNA and other data to understand evolutionary patterns and update the taxonomy of native forget-me-nots and foxgloves.

 
Hokimate Harwood
Bicultural Science Researcher

Hokimate’s research has included work on kererū (native pigeon) diet and ecology. Her present special interests incorporate the use of birds by iwi Māori, with research that centres around feather identification and bird use in Māori cloaks. This research has expanded to include Te Papa’s Māori, Pacific and History collection items. Archival and photographic collection research of the taonga Māori records has led to tracing the movements and provenance of taonga Māori and establishing connections with iwi Māori.

 Hokimate Harwood
Lara Shepherd
Post-Doctoral Researcher

Lara is an evolutionary biologist who uses genetic techniques to study the evolution of New Zealand's flora and fauna. Current research includes examining the evolution of the seabirds prions, the cultivation and translocation of the country’s plant species by Maori and the spatial patterns of New Zealand’s bird and reptile species.

 Lara Shepherd
Leon Perrie
Curator Botany

Leon’s research focuses on New Zealand’s ferns: their numbers, locations and identification. He has used DNA analyses to address this work and such questions as how ferns are related to one another and to species overseas.  He is currently working on accounts for the online eFlora of New Zealand. He also works on Pacific ferns, and has studied other plant groups, particularly Pseudopanax (lancewoods and five fingers).

 Leon Perrie
Patrick Brownsey
Research Fellow Natural Environment

Pat is a Research Fellow at Te Papa, with a special area of expertise in New Zealand ferns and allied plants. He is currently working with Landcare Research to publish the online eFlora of New Zealand and develop the New Zealand Virtual Herbarium.

 Patrick Brownsey
Phil Garnock-Jones
Researcher

Phil is a botanist who studies the evolution, classification, naming, and identification of native and naturalised plants, particularly hebes and speedwells (genus Veronica).  He is currently writing for the online eFlora of New Zealand, specifically the treatment for Veronica, which is a descriptive identification guide to all 140 species in the country.

 Phil Garnock-Jones
Ricardo Palma
Curator Invertebrates

Ricardo’s research on parasitic lice includes morphology, taxonomy, systematics, phyologenetic relationships and host association. This work focuses mainly on New Zealand, Australia, and oceanic islands, with special emphasis on lice from sea birds. He also collaborates with foreign researchers on studies of lice from other regions, and with ornithologists on nomenclatorial matters relating to bird taxonomy.

 Ricardo Palma
Rick Webber
Curator Invertebrates

Rick is a marine biologist specialising in Crustacea. His research is mostly on the identity of crabs, lobsters and shrimps, and especially the larvae of crabs. Currently he is researching the crabs and shrimps of Pacific islands, and the tiny larvae of pea crabs, the little crabs that live in mussels. He is also working with colleagues on a new species of land hoppers, the crustaceans that live on land, and on the identities of other small marine crustaceans.

 Rick Webber
Susan Waugh
Senior Curator Sciences

Susan manages the science and Natural History programme for the museum. Her personal field of expertise is in seabird population ecology, with research experience in petrel and albatross foraging, population estimation and fisheries by-catch management.

 Susan Waugh

Pacific

Nina Tonga
Curator Pacific Cultures

Nina is an art historian who specialises in Pacific art. Her current research focuses on contemporary Pacific art in New Zealand and in the Pacific, with a particular interest in internet art from 2000 to the present.

 
Sean Mallon
Senior Curator Pacific Cultures

Sean Mallon specialises in the social and cultural history of Pacific peoples in New Zealand. He is currently researching the cultural history of Samoan tattooing, and issues relating to the agency and activism of Pacific peoples in museums.

Sean Mallon

Practice Leader Research

Claudia Orange
Practice Leader Research

Claudia is an historian whose research interests span most subjects in New Zealand history from the late 18th century to the present. Her major long-term research focus is on the country’s Treaty of Waitangi signed between Māori chiefs and the British Crown in 1840. Current research revolves around the continuing evolution of the Treaty’s role, and other issues relating to the country’s political, social and cultural identity.

Claudia Orange