Largest collection of ancestral remains in NZ history to be repatriated

updated By Piripi Taylor

In New York this morning, the remains of 107 Māori and Moriori were formally handed back to Māori after an agreement was reached between the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and the American Museum of Natural History.

It's the largest collection of ancestral remains in New Zealand's history to be repatriated.

A spiritual call is extended to these sacred treasures, some of which have resided in alienation for nearly 200 years in America.

Before the break of dawn, the sacred journey home begins for these Māori and Moriori ancestors.

The collection includes 35 preserved Māori tattooed heads, as well as two tattooed thigh skins, 24 Moriori skeletal remains, and 46 Maori skeletal remains that were collected when there was a strong commercial trade and network in the remains of indigenous people in Europe and North America.

The remains had been held by the American Museum of Natural History, who will always be held in great regard by Te Papa Tongarewa for their decision in December last year to repatriate them to New Zealand.

The sacred collection will be formally welcomed to Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington on Friday to coincide with part 2 of the Karanga Aotearoa Symposium that begins on Thursday.