Māori ancestors repatriated to New Zealand by the Peabody Museum

Yale University News, July 11, 2018

"On the morning of June 21, the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History voluntarily transferred the remains of seven Māori and one Moriori tūpuna, or ancestors, to representatives from the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, known as Te Papa.

The Māori and Moriori ancestors had been in the Peabody’s care since they were donated to the museum in the 19th century. In 2003, the New Zealand government mandated Te Papa to “develop a formal programme for the repatriation of kōiwi and koimi tangata (Māori and Moriori skeletal remains) from international institutions to iwi (tribes),” codifying an effort to reclaim ancestral remains that began several decades ago. Overseen by the Peabody’s repatriation coordinator, Erin Gredell, Thursday’s repatriation makes Yale the third American university to return Māori and Moriori ancestors to Te Papa since the mandate.

“For over 100 years, the Peabody Museum has been honored to care for the Maori and Moriori ancestors, and we hope their return brings healing and joy to their descendants,” said David Skelly, director of the Peabody and the Frank R. Oastler Professor of Ecology. “As Mr. Herewini so elegantly stated during today’s ceremony, we are all part of the reconciliation process, and on behalf of the Peabody Museum and Yale University I would like to thank our distinguished guests for inviting our participation.”

The delegation from Te Papa included Te Herekiekie Herewini, head of repatriation for Te Papa; Te Arikirangi Mamaku, repatriation program coordinator and courier for Te Papa; and two Māori elders, Te Hemanawa Temara (Hema) and Tamahou Temara (Tamahou). The delegation and representatives from the Peabody began the day with a private ceremony where Māori elders and Te Papa representatives were able to “pay respects to the tūpuna and to prepare them for their journey home.”"

More here.