Maori re­mains on their way to Te Papa

The Wellingtonian - - Front Page - RUBY MACANDREW

The an­ces­tral re­mains of Maori, in­clud­ing two skulls and a pre­served head, are be­ing re­turned to New Zealand af­ter more than 100 years in Swe­den.

The two Maori skulls were taken in 1890 by a Swedish nat­u­ral his­to­rian, Con­rad Frist­edt, who spent time in the Bay of Is­lands and kept his dis­cov­er­ies se­cret from Maori liv­ing in the re­gion.

They were given to Karolin­ska In­sti­tutet med­i­cal univer­sity in Stock­holm, where they had re­mained un­til this week.

‘‘We are grat­i­fied that the Maori re­mains will now re­turn to their home­land,’’ said med­i­cal his­tory and her­itage direc­tor Dr Eva Ahren.

‘‘Karolin­ska In­sti­tutet takes very se­ri­ously our moral obli­ga­tion to help repa­tri­ate re­mains of in­dige­nous peo­ples from our his­tor­i­cal col­lec­tions. We greatly ap­pre­ci­ate this op­por­tu­nity to transfer the re­mains into the care of Te Papa’s repa­tri­a­tion team.’’

In ad­di­tion to the two skulls, a toi moko – tat­tooed pre­served Maori head – will also be re­turned to New Zealand with the sup­port of the Swedish Gov­ern­ment.

Lit­tle is known about the toi moko, other than that it was gifted to the Stock­holm-based in­sti­tute by Lon­don col­lec­tor Henry Christy in late 1862.

The largest repa­tri­a­tion of re­mains was in 2014, when 107 an­ces­tors were re­turned to New Zealand from the Amer­i­can Nat­u­ral His­tory Mu­seum in New York. The col­lec­tion was gath­ered by Bri­tish soldier Ma­jor Ho­ra­tio Rob­ley.

More than 400 in­di­vid­u­als have been re­turned from in­sti­tu­tions around the world since the pro­gramme was started in 1990, in­clud­ing a third skull taken by Frist­edt, which was repa­tri­ated in 2011 from the Univer­sity of Oslo’s anatomy depart­ment.

‘‘It’s im­por­tant to recog­nise the role gov­ern­ments can have in sup­port­ing the re­turn of in­dige­nous re­mains to their com­mu­ni­ties,’’ said Te Papa’s Kai­hautu (Maori co-leader) Ara­p­ata Haki­wai.

‘‘The Swedish Gov­ern­ment has been ac­tive in this re­spect, and Te Papa wishes to recog­nise this in full along­side the Karolin­ska In­sti­tutet.’’

These three Maori an­ces­tral re­mains will re­turn home along with an­other 60 Maori and Mo­ri­ori re­mains from three other in­sti­tu­tions in Europe.

The re­mains will be for­mally wel­comed home at Te Papa in Welling­ton on Mon­day, May 29.

and ex­e­cut­ing it with a de­gree of dif­fi­culty.


Kan ex­plores the dark side of op­ti­mism in his lat­est comedic of­fer­ing.

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