Saving Aotearoa's rare and threatened orchids


We are delighted to share with you an exciting new initiative from the Te Papa Foundation.

 Te Papa’s research plays a critical role in helping New Zealanders understand more about our diverse cultures and our unique environment. The Te Papa Foundation is making a commitment towards fostering new generations of researchers, curators and scientists to carry forward this invaluable work.

To assist with this vital work, the Te Papa Foundation is raising funds for two Masters-level student research scholarships, to work with Te Papa’s Curator of Botany Dr Carlos Lehnebach, a world-renowned expert on orchids to conduct much needed research on New Zealand’s rare and threatened orchids. Article continued below.

With Carlos and the team, scholarship students will collect and describe rare and native orchids – pointing towards the identification of potentially 20 new orchid species. Some of these orchid specimens were collected many years ago, but the scientific work needed to identify them has not yet been carried out. Although orchid conservation research is common overseas, New Zealand lags behind and Te Papa is the only New Zealand institution conducting such research.

This research is so important for growing our national understanding of New Zealand’s biodiversity, expanding Te Papa’s botanical collection, and in providing a tool to propagate threatened orchids from seed to prevent their extinction. 

The benefits are two-fold: the understanding of these species is advanced and our ability to protect and conserve them enhanced; and two students will learn hands-on skills, working with an expert team, and (hopefully!) be inspired to continue with this kind of research practice as they move into their working careers.


              “The more we learn about our native orchids, the greater our chances to prevent their extinction” – Dr Carlos Lehnebach

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With your support, the efforts of the Foundation will have a tangible impact not only for the academic careers of budding New Zealand researchers and scientists, but also for New Zealand’s body of biodiversity research and environmental protection. 

Our immediate fundraising target is $30,000, which will fund two scholarships. Our longer- term aspiration is to build an ongoing scholarship fund that will support graduate students to develop their skills and inspire them with the potential of museums as future career options, across all Te Papa’s diverse research and collection areas. 

We gratefully welcome your interest in supporting this initial scholarship project or exploring with us areas of Te Papa’s endeavours that would be matched to your own specific interests. 

To contribute today, or to learn more, please contact Danielle Genty-Nott on +64 21 401 907, or by email:

Or click below to donate (please write “Scholarships” in the message field).