Natural Sciences


The Natural Sciences collections are principally a research and reference assembelage that provides information on the distribution and morphology of plant, animal and mineral species in NZ and the regional Pacific.


Each of the collection areas has a curator responsible for the development of the collection, expertise in research within areas related to the collections, provision of access and engagement, and for the organisation of the collection. A team of collection managers and a loans officer work across the collection areas with the curators, ensuring loans, documentation, storage, arrangement and access are completed to a high standard.


Jump to: BotanyEntomologyLand VertebratesMarineGeologyPalaeontology



Botany Collection

Sticta latifrons

The origins of the Botany collection lie in the personal collection of T F Cheeseman assembled while he was Director of Auckland Museum (1874-1923).

The focus of the herbarium collection is on wild plants (native and naturalised) in all plant groups principally from northern New Zealand and its offshore islands. It is principally a research collection and provides evidence of New Zealand's changing flora. Some of the earliest specimens date from James Cook's voyages.

Current collecting priorities include new species occurring in New Zealand, changes to geographic ranges, and improving the quality and range of morphological variation represented in the existing collection. This is one of only three significantly-sized herbaria in New Zealand, the others are at Landcare Research Auckland and Te Papa Tongarewa, in Wellington.



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Sticta latifrons, AK186159, © Auckland Museum CC BY

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Entomology Collection

Delias sambawana everetti

The Entomology collection contains about 250,000 catalogued specimens and, while focused on the northern areas of New Zealand, includes important collections ranging from Manawatawhi Three Kings Islands to the sub-Antarctic Islands. It is part of a national and international network and aims to contain a comprehensive reference collection of all insect types as well as other terrestrial and freshwater invertebrates (worms, spiders, millipedes and centipedes, some isopods and amphipods) from the New Zealand region. This includes both native and introduced species. Its importance lies in the ability to support research  into the biodiversity of New Zealand's terrestrial invertebrates, particularly beetles, moths and parasitic wasps, and their contribution to complex ecologies. Foreign collections of beetles and butterflies feature also, for comparative and educational value.



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Delias sambawana everetti, AMNZ134038, © Auckland Museum CC BY

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Land Vertebrates Collection

Testudo elephantina

The Land Vertebrates collection of about 21,000 specimens is historically as well as scientifically important. The Museum began collecting and exhibiting land vertebrates from its foundation in 1852. The collection contains the oldest surviving New Zealand stuffed birds (1856-57) and numerous specimens of now-extinct species. Collections of bones, eggs, feathers and whole taxidermy specimens are all important research resources which document changes in distribution and responses to habitat over time. In addition to the significant collection of birds, native bats, amphibians and reptiles are also represented, along with comparative examples of foreign birds and mammals. The Museum holds the principal reference collection of species from the upper North Island.



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Testudo elephantina, LH635, © Auckland Museum CC BY

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Marine Collection

Talochlamys zelandiae

The Marine collection, especially its shell collection, was largely established through A W B Powell's association with the Museum (from 1916 until 1987). Numbering an estimated 200,000 specimens in the collection, it includes fishes, most invertebrate phyla and the largest collection of endangered New Zealand land snails. Extensive surveys of Auckland Harbour from the 1930s and later fieldwork in the harbours and estuaries of the upper North Island have built the country's most important collections for taxonomic and biodiversity research in the northern region. Other important aspects of the collection include material from the southwest Pacific, including the most comprehensive record of the Kermadec Islands' marine species which are critical for the study of regional biodiversity and modelling the likely impacts of climate change.



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Talochlamys zelandiae, MA20597, © Auckland Museum CC BY

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Geology Collection

Rock and Mineral Types Rocks Miscellaneous rock Meteorite

The Geology collection was originally focused on material from the Waihi, Thames and Coromandel gold fields, through deliberate collecting by the Museumís geologists as well as collections donated by private collectors. It has been augmented by volcanic specimens of research and historical interest. The collection of 12,000 specimens contains a number of nationally important materials and supports research work and collections held at other museums, universities and Crown Research Institutes.



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Meteorite, GE157, © Auckland Museum CC BY

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Palaeontology Collection

Chordata Vertebrata Reptilia "Dinosaur"

The Palaeontology collection was established in the early 1900s and, with more than 20,000 specimen lots, is one of the largest collections of fossil invertebrates in New Zealand. Its importance lies in its ability to contribute understanding of evolutionary change, past biodiversity and the record of dynamic change during the past 65 million years with rapid submergence and uplift at various times during New Zealandís geological history. Past climate change and the significance of glacial cycles and oscillation are also reflected in the specimens and their associated data.



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Chordata Vertebrata Reptilia "Dinosaur", LH2536, © Auckland Museum CC BY

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