Herbarium details: Auckland War Memorial Museum (AK)


Private Bag 92018
Auckland 1030
New Zealand


+64 9 309 0443


+64 9 379 9956



Auckland War Memorial Museum
The Domain



Museum 1852; Herbarium 1870.


A public museum funded largely by the seven territorial local authorities of the Auckland Region under an Act of Parliament (Auckland War Memorial Museum Act 1996) and governed by a Trust Board elected by members of the local authorities, Auckland Museum Institute and the Taumata–a–Iwi (Maori Committee).


The herbarium provides basic means by which the Museum´s Botany Department carries out its function of collection and preservation of botanical materials, education (through public enquiries, individual and group visits, outreach programmes, and the display of material), and research and publication on various aspects of the New Zealand flora.

Scope of Collections

The herbarium contains comprehensive collections of all plant groups (except fungi) found naturally in New Zealand, with emphasis on the northern half of the North Island and its offshore islands.  Islands or island groups with strong representation include:  Kermadecs, Three Kings, Motuopao, Moturoas, Stephenson, Cavallis, Bay of Islands, Rimariki, Poor Knights, Hen and Chickens, Mokohinaus, Little Barrier, Great Barrier, inner Hauraki Gulf, Coromandel, Cuvier, Mercury, Aldermen, Shoe, Slipper, Mayor, Rurima, Whale, Kapiti, and Chetwodes.

The New Zealand collection includes both native and adventive species, some cultivated material, and a range of timber samples.  A sizeable overseas collection, obtained by long–standing exchange with herbaria in Australia, around the Pacific, North and South America, Britian, and Europe, is also held. LEV herbarium has been incorporated and AKU has been donated but not yet incorporated.

The herbarium is based on the collections of Thomas F. Cheeseman made between 1870 and 1920 (and is occasionally termed the Cheeseman Herbarium).  It contains many historical specimens and numerous types.

Number of Collections

Estimated breakdown of the known number of specimens:

Angiosperms c. 178 860
Gymnosperms c. 4 095
Pteridophytes c. 24 300
Mosses 13 790
Liverworts 3 105
Algae 6 607
Lichens 24 043
Timber samples c. 1 000
Unaccessioned (mainly AKU) c. 60 000
Total c. 315 800


A computerised herbarium management system has been developed for the herbarium (VERNON) and since 1989 all new accessions have been entered into the database.  There have also been ongoing projects, funded by the NZ Lottery Board, to enter backlog records.  As of 1 July 2003 over 189,705 records have been databased which includes all the non–vascular specimens and all the native NZ specimens.

Important collections

The herbarium contains the main collections of the following botanists:  J. Adams (N.Z.) J.E. Attwood (N.Z.), A. Bennett (England), J.E. Braggins (N.Z. liverworts), E.K. Cameron (NZ & Pacific), W.M. Canby (U.S.A.), T.F. Cheeseman (N.Z. & Rarotonga), R.C. Cooper (N.Z.), L.M. Cranwell (N.Z.), P.J. de Lange (N.Z.), R.O. Gardner (N.Z. & Pacific), E. Craig (N.Z. & worldwide ferns), E.D. Hatch (N.Z.), B.W. & G.C. Hayward (N.Z.), P. Hynes (N.Z.), V.W. Lindauer, I.C. Martindale (U.S.A.), H.B. Matthews (N.Z.), E. Phillips Turner (N.Z.), F. Shakespear (N.Z.), J.H. Simmonds (N.Z. & Australian eucalypts), A.E. Wright (N.Z. & Tonga).

The herbarium also contains duplicate collections made by the following botanists whose main collections are held by other herbaria:  K.W. Allison, B.C. Aston, F.M. Bailey, J. Banks & D. Solander, G.T.S. Baylis, T.W.N. Beckett, S. Berggren, R. Brown, J. Buchanan, H. Carse, L. Cockayne, W. Colenso, I. & O. Degener, F.R. Fosberg, W.H. Harvey, E.A. Hodgson, T. Kirk, R.M. Laing, J.T. Linzey, J.H. Maiden, B.E.G. Molesworth, L.B. Moore, F. von Mueller, W.R.B. Oliver, B.S. Parris, D. Petrie, G.O.K. Sainsbury, C. Skottsberg, W.W. Smith, W. Townson, H.H. Travers, F. Vaupel, H.B.S. Womersley.

Ancillary Collections

Associated with the herbarium is an excellent botanical library containing many rare and early works.  The main Museum Library also holds manuscript notes and letters by J. Adams, J. Banks, J. Buchanan, T.F. Cheeseman, L. Cockayne, W. Colenso, J. Edgerley, A. Hamilton, P. Hynes, T. Kirk, J.D. McComish, H.B. Mathews, B.E.G. Molesworth, D.L. Poppelwell, and A. Wall.

An important collection of botanical art includes watercolours by Fanny Osborne, Jessie Brownlee, Eleonore Blumhardt, Eunic Reekie, and Ellen M. Cheeseman, and the original pencil drawings of Cheeseman´s Illustrations of New Zealand flora executed by Matilda Smith at Kew.  Modern illustrations of plants (from calenders, advertising material, books etc.) are also collected and added to a systematic file of early original illustrations taken from, e.g., Curtis´s Botanical Magazine, Loddiges Botanical cabinet, The garden, and Florist periodicals.

Photographs of most type specimens have been taken.  Types (and other specimens made by early collectors) of New Zealand material received on loan from overseas herbaria are photographed as a matter of course.

A specialist collection of ´fern books´ (bound collections of ferns  made by amateurs and professionals such as Eric Craig) is held, along with a small wet collection of flowers, fruit and algae.  A substantial collection of kauri gum is also held.

Staff and Research

Curator:  Ewen K. Cameron:  N.Z. native & adventive vascular flora, offshore island floristics and conservation. ecameron@aucklandmuseum.com

Collection Team Leader: Chris Jones

Honarary Research Associates:
Rhys O. Gardner (N.Z. & Pacific vascular flora) rgardner@aucklandmuseum.com
John E. Braggins (N.Z. liverworts).