Monday, December 8, 2014

Ancient Maori heads returning from US

This is the largest repatriation of ancestral remains in New Zealand's history. The American Museum of Natural History had a collection of Maori remains, acquired
from the early 1800s up until the 1900s when there was a strong commercial trade and network in indigenous peoples' remains, particularly in Europe and North America. This was fuelled by an intense curiosity with "native" peoples' culture and physical anthropology amongst very wealthy collectors, academic institutions, medical schools and museums, he said. After more than a 100 years abroad, the remains will arrive back in New Zealand this Friday. [...] The remains are made up of:

* 35 Toi moko (preserved Maori tattooed heads) and two tattooed thigh skins from the collection of Portuguese soldier Horatio Gordon Robley. Robley became fascinated with moko during an 1863 visit to New Zealand. He tried unsuccessfully to return his collection to New Zealand in his later life.

* 24 koimi tangata Moriori (Moriori skeletal remains) linked back to New Zealand naturalist Henry Hammersly Travers, the most prolific collector of Chatham Island remains.

* 46 koiwi tangata (Maori skeletal remains) collected from across the North Island. Most are from the private collection of leading Austrian anthropologist Felix von Luschan.
'Ancient Maori heads returning from US' NZ City1 December 2014

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