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Moriori, Maori remains return from Germany

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 17/05/2017

The ancestral remains of 44 Moriori and Maori are returning to New Zealand from the German city of Bremen.

Mayor Dr Carsten Sieling says it's fortunate that modern European and German views on such exhibits are different from 100 years ago.

"Today, we consider the acquisition of this collection to contravene human dignity," he said.

"We apologise for these actions and ask for forgiveness."

A delegation from Te Papa has travelled to Bremen to take the remains back to New Zealand.

The Ubersee Museum in Bremen says an investigation of 35 Moriori ancestral remains confirmed they came from the Chatham Islands and collector Hugo Hermann Schauinsland (1857-1937).

Schauinsland visited New Zealand and the Chatham Islands during 1896 and 1897.

Those remains include skulls, jawbones, ribs, foot bones, scapulae, pelvises, sacra and two near complete skeletons.

Three Maori ancestors were collected, one perhaps by Schauinsland. The provenance of the others is unclear.

The remaining six Maori remains were collected and/or traded by Henry Suter (also known as Hans Heinrich Suter), who came to settle in New Zealand in 1887 with his family from Switzerland.

Three have provenance to Whangaroa in Northland and are recorded as being associated with Ngapuhi.

Others have provenance to the Tainui/Waikato regions, and general provenance to New Zealand.

Te Papa's kaihautu (Maori co-leader), Dr Arapata Hakiwai, expressed appreciation for the work done by the Ubersee Museum and the Bremen government to ensure the remains' provenance was unveiled.

He said the next step was facilitating their safe return to iwi.

The items from Bremen are part of 59 Maori and Moriori ancestral remains returning from four institutions in Europe.

A powhiri will be held at Te Papa on May 29.

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