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Museums Aotearoa Membership Adopts National Repatriation Policy

The adoption of the National Repatriation Policy for Kōiwi Tangata and Associated Burial Taonga within Aotearoa, by the Museums Aotearoa membership at their AGM on Thursday 24 June, was a significant milestone for the repatriation movement in Aotearoa New Zealand.

“This policy moves our whole sector forward in terms of commitment to the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and a culturally appropriate practice.” Says Courtney Johnston, Tumu Whakarae Chief Executive, Te Papa Tongarewa.

“It is important that all museums can take a respectful approach to tipuna, our ancestors, and to burial taonga. This policy will help achieve that.” Says Dr Arapata Hakiwai, Kaihautū Māori Co-leader, Te Papa Tongarewa.

Work on the policy has been underway for several years and provides guidance for museums in taking an ethical approach to the respectful management of kōiwi tangata within their care, with a presumption that repatriation to the source community should be the outcome wherever possible.

“We are making a statement as a sector, and country, that the return of ancestral remains held within New Zealand museums to their people is important to us and we are committed to support all of our museums to undertake this task. We know this is not an easy process and it can take time to return tūpuna to their whanau, hapū, iwi, as well as to the many overseas nations represented with in our institutions.” Says Dr Amber Aranui, Project Lead for Ngākahu – National Repatriation Project and Museums Aotearoa board member.

“Museology in Aotearoa is changing with repatriation fast becoming part of the everyday practice. This policy provides guidance for museums on how we might venture into this journey of change and meaningful relationship building with the people and communities of whose ancestors we hold”, says Dr Amber Aranui.

Museums Aotearoa held its AGM on Thursday 24 June at the National Library of New Zealand. An election was held and the members of the Museums Aotearoa Board are confirmed as: Ian Griffin, Tui Te Hau, Eloise Wallace, Amber Aranui, Lucinda Blackley-Jimson and Susanna Shadbolt. The board will meet this week to appoint a Chair.

The AGM was also Phillipa Tocker's last day as Executive Director and her service to the organisation and the sector over the past 16 years was acknowledged by the interim Board and the membership.

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