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Tales from Te Papa - Albatross

Television (Full Length Episode) – 2009

In this bite-sized documentary, Simon Morton interviews Te Papa bird curator Sandy Bartle about the albatross (aka toroa). Clutching one of the 2000-odd albatross specimens held at the museum, Dr Bartle shares an anecdote about taking albatrosses on the bus in a backpack and a sack after the storm that caused the Wahine ferry disaster in 1968. Ninety-six albatrosses were brought to Wellington's Dominion Museum that day, many thrown against cliffs by the storm's 200 kilometre per hour winds. The documentary also touches on how the birds are stored and maintained at Te Papa.

...Up in Wadestown I brought a couple [of albatrosses] down on the bus, one in a backpack and one in a sack, and they were both alive, and you know how people are in the morning waiting for the bus. They sort of looked at this backpack and there's this huge head and dark eye poking out of the top, and a sack with another huge head and a dark eye poking out. I just got on the bus and nobody actually had the courage to ask me anything about them at all — typical New Zealanders.
– Te Papa Tongarewa Curator of Birds Sandy Bartle remembers albatross victims from the 1968 Wahine storm

Key Cast & Crew

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Heather Cottam


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Gary Scott


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Simon Morton