17 Māori and Moriori ancestral remains return home

By Regan Paranihi

Te Papa Tongarewa is ready to welcome the return of 17 Māori and Moriori ancestral remains from the United States of America and Germany.

The remains come from the De Young Museum in San Francisco, Yale Peabody Museum in Connecticut, and the Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum of World Cultures in Cologne, Germany.

Dr Arapata Hakiwai, Māori Co-leader of Te Papa has waited over twenty-five years for the return of the ancestral remains.

"I am pleased Te Papa's work is continuing to bring Māori and Moriori ancestors home.  Through this process, we are building relationships with international institutions to understand the immense value of repatriation to the iwi belonging to these tūpuna and karāpuna (Moriori ancestor)."

Te Herekiekie Herewini, Head of Repatriation at Te Papa, believes the remains should be reconnected with their iwi homelands.

“Our ultimate aim is to ensure the safe return of Māori and Moriori ancestors to their uri (descendants).  Through this work, the ancestors are embraced by their whānau, comforted by the spirit of the land, and once return to a peaceful enduring slumber."

Te Papa is holding a pōhiri for these remains and then the tūpuna will rest at the Museums wāhi tapu while researchers continue to unveil their place of origin around the country.

Over the next three years, Te Papa is planning to return more ancestral remains in its wāhi tapu, in particular to their nations of origin in the Pacific.