Te Taiao Nature is the new permanent exhibition at Te Papa, weaving together science and mātauranga Māori in a way that will educate future New Zealand generations.
The 1,400-square-metre zone features more than 1,200 collection items and over 40 digital and physical interactive experiences.
Interactive experiences include those that enable visitors to smell the scent of a kākāpō, weigh in against a giant moa and create their own tsunami.
Te Papa’s Head of Experience Design Frith Williams said they designed the spaces to cater to people’s different levels of understanding around nature.
“For example, the way we’ve designed this climate experience here - you’re taking social, collective action on the walls, personal actions on these kiosks, but the floor is just a magical play space for our littlies.
“They’re still surrounded by these other ideas and being part of these conversations.”
Williams believes that many children already understand the importance of the exhibition’s conservation message.
“I know from my conversations with [my daughter], they are dealing with a lot of these topics at school already. They’re pretty onto it – a number of them chose to go on the climate march.”
GNS Science Chief Executive Ian Simpson also expressed what an important role Mātauranga Māori experts played in bringing perspectives and knowledge from te ao Māori to the exhibition.
“In Te Taiao Nature our latest, cutting-edge science has been linked with mātauranga Māori (traditional scientific understanding) and vividly brought to life,” he said.
The impact of this was reflected when Massive overheard a young schoolgirl at the exhibition asking which letter had a macron when spelling ‘Taupō’.
Hon Carmel Sepuloni acknowledged how Te Taiao Nature will impact future generations.
“These new exhibitions will reach huge numbers over their lifespan, educating a new generation about the environmental issues facing our times and prompting them to take action to protect our moana and whenua.”
With an investment of $12 million, Te Taiao Nature is the largest redevelopment at Te Papa since it opened 21 years ago. It replaces the old nature exhibitions which have been closed since April 2018.
TeTaiao Nature opens to the public on Saturday 11 May. Entry is free.