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Repatriation Of Toi Moko To Te Papa


On 24 May at 8.30am, Te Papa will receive a toi moko (preserved Mäori tattooed head), which is being repatriated from Argentina.

The toi moko has been part of the collection of the Ethnographic Museum in Buenos Aires. The Museum's Director, Dr Jose Perez Gollan, will accompany the toi moko onto Te Papa's Marae in a small ceremony.

The display of human remains is increasingly discouraged throughout the international museum community, and steps are being taken to return these remains to their countries of origin.

As yet, Te Papa researchers have been unable to specifically link this toi moko to a particular area, iwi (tribal group), or date. It is known, however, that the toi moko was in the possession of the London dealer William Oldman who sold the head to Antonio Devoto, a wealthy Italian who had property in Argentina, in 1910. Devoto later gifted his collection to the Ethnographic Museum.

The toi moko will be held in a special storage facility at Te Papa until its iwi connections are established.

Dr Perez Gollan's visit is being funded through the government's Latin America Strategy Fund, which is administered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

During his time in New Zealand, Dr Perez Gollan will also meet New Zealand museum administrators and researchers, and deliver a speech at Auckland University. His visit is intended to foster links between the Ethnographic Museum and New Zealand museums, and help promote academic links between New Zealand and Argentina.


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