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.