Te Papa's collections of plant and animal specimens are managed by the Natural Environment team in the Collections and Research Directorate.
With approximately 1.5 million collection lots, this is the largest, most comprehensive collection of New Zealand fauna and flora, with most major taxonomic groups of plants and animals in our biota represented.
New species are continually being discovered in New Zealand and the database of these specimens is used by scientists and students from all over the world. In recent years the collection has become an important storage of voucher specimens to support the results of genetic DNA analysis studies.
One of the major roles of the taxonomist is to identify species and provide information for use by ecologists, biologists, biogeographers, industries and the general public. Accurate identification of species is required to suport studies of ecology, interspecific and intraspecific relationships, life history, population biology, and understand human effects on the environment and the commercial potential of a species that could benefit New Zealand's economy.