Berlin Museum Returns Toi Moko to New Zealand

With a ceremony and prayers, Berlin’s ethnological museum has marked the official repatriation of two Toi Moko, or tattooed Māori heads, to the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington, Deutsche Welle reports.

The Toi moko were considered a collector’s item in 19th century Europe, Deutsche Welle reports. The demand for them was so high that slaves and prisoners of war were tattooed and then killed so that their heads could be sold.

The Toi moko had been brought to the museum in 1879 and 1905. The names of the men to whose heads were mummified, their fate and the exact route by which they arrived in Europe are unknown.

The return was “a signal of reconciliation to the societies affected by colonialism,” federal commissioner for culture and the media Monika Gruetters said.

Original article by Deutsche Welle, October 15, 2020.

Photo by Christophe Gateau.


Tags: Deutsche Welle  Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa  Toi moko