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Welcome for Maori remains at Te Papa

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 28/05/2017

A powhiri was held at Te Papa to mark the return home of 59 Maori and Moriori ancestral remains from the UK and Europe on Monday.

The ancestral remains have been repatriated from four institutes - The Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden; the Ubersee Museum in Bremen, Germany; the Manchester University Museum in England; and the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, England.

The remains were welcomed home at Te Papa on Monday afternoon by representatives of Moriori and Maori communities, senior government officials and representatives of Sweden, the United Kingdom and Germany.

The karapuna (Moriori ancestors) and tupuna (Maori ancestors) were carried onto Rongomaraeroa Marae at Te Papa, and placed on the atamira, the raised platform on the marae, at the beginning of the ceremony, where they were offered dignity and respect by those that have gathered.

Actor Sam Neill, in Wellington shooting a documentary, was an interested onlooker.

The remains will rest in Te Papa's wahi tapu, or sacred repository.

Te Papa Maori leader Arapata Hakiwai says there is a growing awareness among overseas institutions about the importance of repatriating ancestral remains.

"They are realising many ancestors were taken by unethical means, and Te Papa is pleased to be able to work with international institutions in order to facilitate the safe return of the ancestors to their iwi," he said.

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