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Ancestral Remains to Return From Australia

4 October 2012

Ancestral Remains to Return From Australia

22 kōiwi tangata (ancestral remains) are to be returned to New Zealand from J.L. Shellshear Museum at The University of Sydney and the Western Australian Museum in Perth.

‘The repatriation of these tupuna (ancestors) is a time for reflection and joy that they are returning to their home land of Aotearoa New Zealand,’ says Michelle Hippolite, Kaihautu of Te Papa.

During this repatriation, 14 kōimi tangata Moriori (Moriori ancestral remains) and 6 kōiwi tangata Māori (Māori ancestral remains) are to be returned from J.L. Shellshear Museum Museum at The University of Sydney and two kōiwi tangata Māori from the Western Australian Museum in Perth.

‘The Karanga Aotearoa Repatriation programme has been working on the safe return of Māori remains since June 2004. I would like to thank both institutions for their positive decisions and their support in returning these kōiwi tangata to Aotearoa New Zealand’.

The Karanga Aotearoa Repatriation programme aims to repatriate kōiwi and kōimi tangata (Māori and Moriori ancestral remains) from overseas institutions to relevant New Zealand iwi (tribal groups). Te Papa carries out this work on behalf of the New Zealand Government, which provides the funding.

Background information about the Karanga Aotearoa Repatriation Programme
Karanga Aotearoa is the government mandated authority that negotiates the repatriation of Māori ancestral remains on behalf of Māori. The Karanga Aotearoa Repatriation Programme invites institutions to repatriate kōiwi tangata and Toi moko held in their institutions. Once an institution indicates they are willing to take the conversation further, the programme keeps in regular contact and then submits a repatriation case for the governing body to consider. In some situations a repatriation agreement with an institution can take less then 12 months, however, in most circumstances a longer period is required.

Toi moko and kōiwi tangata are returned from overseas institutions to Te Papa on an interim basis only. Neither Toi moko nor skeletal remains are accessioned as part of Te Papa’s collections and Te Papa has a policy prohibiting their exhibition. Rather, kōiwi remain in Te Papa’s dutiful custody pending return to their attributed place of origin. The single goal of repatriation is not to hold the remains at Te Papa indefinitely but to return them to their communities. Māori and Moriori believe that through this ultimate return to their domestic homelands the dead and their living descendants will retrieve their dignity.

International Repatriations

To date, Te Papa and its predecessor, the National Museum, has repatriated ancestral remains from twelve countries bringing home close to 322 kōiwi tangata (skeletal remains). We estimate that there are over 500 still awaiting their homecoming.

Domestic Repatriations

To date, Te Papa and the Karanga Aotearoa Repatriation Programme have returned 89 ancestral remains to their papa kāinga.
Domestic repatriations have been carried out in the North Island to Ngāti Kurï, Ngāi Tai, Te Tairāwhiti, Muaūpoko, Ngāti Apa, Ngāti Maniapoto, Whanganui, Tauranga Moana iwi (i.e. Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui and Ngāti Pukenga), Ngāti Whakaue and Ngäti Te Ata , Ngāti Tuwharetoa .
In the South Island they have been returned to Ngāi Tahu and Rangitāne o Wairau.


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