Wellington, Saturday, May 28, 2016
The ancestral remains of 60 Mori and Moriori individuals have today been returned to New Zealand in a special ceremony involving New Zealand Police staff held yesterday.
60 staff members from the Wellington Police District, The Royal New Zealand Police College and Police National Headquarters acted as pallbearers in the emotional ceremony at Te Papas Rongomaraeroa Marae.
The remains, which were traded, collected or taken over 100 years ago, have been returned from museums and private collections in America and the United Kingdom.
Washington DCs Smithsonian Institution has returned at least 54 individuals, including four Toi Moko (Mummified Mori Heads).
Deputy Chief Executive Mori, Superintendent Wally Haumaha, said that he and his staff were humbled to participate in the special and spiritual ceremony.
It is a real honour for the New Zealand Police to be asked to carry the remains of someones ancestors onto the Marae to bring closure for many families. This also demonstrates the huge trust and confidence that Mori have in the New Zealand Police and is another significant feature of the strength of the relationship between Police and Mori, he said.
This is the second-largest repatriation in the history of the Karanga Aotearoa repatriation programme, which returns the remains of indigenous people to New Zealand. More than 400 individuals have been returned from various institutions around the world since the programme was started in 1990.
The remains will be subject to quarantine, conservation and research before being returned, where possible, to whnau.
Superintendent Wallace Haumaha at the Ceremony