Return to the Homeland
The remains of 12 Maori – known as koiwi tangata – were recently returned to New Zealand having been part of the Welsh national collection at National Museum Cardiff. Research has shown that the remains were originally obtained from Ahuahu, or Great Mercury Island, which is the largest in the Mercury Islands group, located off the north-east coast of the North Island. Te Papa’s repatriation manager Te Herekiekie Herewini said it was important to return the ancestors to their original community in New Zealand: “This is significant for Maori as it is believed that through the ancestors’ return to their homeland, the dead and their living descendants will retrieve their dignity, and also close the hurt and misdeeds of the past,” he said. Meanwhile, officials from two museums in Sweden have handed over the remains of five indigenous Maori people to their New Zealand counterparts in a ceremony held at the Natural History Museum in Gothenburg. Museums across Europe have been repatriating human remains taken from indigenous burial grounds during colonial times.