Maui Solomon, Chair of the Hokotehi Moriori Trust, speaks at today's formal ceremony 

Image credit © Trustees at the Natural History Museum, London

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The Natural History Museum, Hokotehi Moriori Trust and Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa hold formal ceremony to mark the return of ancestral remains to New Zealand

Today, the Natural History Museum has transferred the custodianship and care of the ancestral remains of over 100 individuals who will be returned to New Zealand. A formal ceremony took place at the Museum to mark this significant event.

The remains of a total of 113 individuals are returning to New Zealand – 111 Kōimi T’chakat Moriori (Moriori skeletal remains) will return to Rēkohu (Chatham Islands) and the ancestral remains of two Māori individuals will be going into the care of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

The ceremony was attended by representatives from the Hokotehi Moriori Trust, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, and High Commissioner for New Zealand, H.E. Bede Corry. Representatives from the Natural History Museum included Museum director Dr Doug Gurr and Dr Heather Bonney, Principal Curator of the Anthropology collections.

The formal ceremony was followed by an educational event for Museum sector staff organised by the Natural History Museum in association with the Hokotehi Moriori Trust and Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, to share knowledge from a special panel of community representatives, researchers and repatriation specialist. Presentations included topics such as the history and traditions of the Moriori people and Te Papa’s Karanga Aotearoa Repatriation Programme.

Maui Solomon, Chair of the Hokotehi Moriori Trust said: “The return of 111 Moriori ancestral remains from the Natural History Museum is a significant event for Moriori.  Our thanks go to the Natural History Museum staff and Board for supporting Karanga Aotearoa and Hokotehi Moriori Trust to make this happen.”

Dr Doug Gurr, Director of the Natural History Museum, said: “It was a privilege to attend this special ceremony marking the return of these ancestral returns to their country and communities of origin. I was delighted to welcome our friends and colleagues from the Hokotehi Moriori Trust and Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa to the Museum following several years of close collaboration to achieve this repatriation. Me rongo.”

The ancestral remains will now begin their journey home, ahead of a formal ceremony to mark their return at Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington, New Zealand on 8 July.

Notes to editors

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Maui Solomon covers some of the ancestral remains with a cloak of Moriori design

Maui Solomon covers some of the ancestral remains with a cloak of Moriori design © The Trustees of The Natural History Museum, London