November 01, 2013
Irish happy to return toi moko
Remains of ancestors taken from the country more than 150 years ago are now back in a waahi tapu in Te Papa.
The eight Toi Moko and five koiwi were welcomed to the museum by about 100 people earlier this week.
The tattooed heads and bone fragments had been collected from institutions in museums in Ireland, England and the Channel Island of Guernsey as part of Te Papa’s ongoing Karanga Aotearoa repatriation project.
Alice Paul, who represented New Zealand’s Irish community at the powhiri, says the project has widespread support.
"We are totally respecting the Maori people by returning the heads insofar as if it was the other way round, if this had happened with some of our Irish people, we would certainly have wanted the same thing," she says.
Te Papa now has about 200 toi moko and other koiwi which it is trying to identify so they can be returned to the appropriate iwi.
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