Te Papa will welcome 111 kōimi t'chakat Moriori (Moriori skeletal remains) and two Māori ancestral remains when they are repatriated to Aotearoa New Zealand on Friday.
It is the largest return of ancestors belonging to a single imi (iwi). It coincides with the opening of a refreshed display of Moriori taonga at Te Papa.
Returning from London's Natural History Museum, the remains include skulls, bones, mandibles, other body parts and a small number of complete skeletons, which were taken from Rēkohu (Chatham Islands) for collection, trade and research.
The repatriation also includes almost 200 karāpuna (Moriori ancestral remains) from Otago University, Tūhura Otago Museum, Canterbury Museum, Whanganui Regional Museum and Auckland War Memorial Museum.
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Te Papa Tongarewa will hold a hokomaurahiri (repatriation ceremony) to mark the return of these ancestors.
Te Papa's Māori co-leader Dr Arapata Hakiwai appreciates the efforts and commitment of the Natural History Museum and the New Zealand institutions helping to bring the karāpuna home.
"This historic repatriation is the first from the Natural History Museum, London. We acknowledge those at the museum who have been assisting with this repatriation for many years and treated our discussions with sensitivity and care.
"We also acknowledge the contribution of the New Zealand institutions whose collaborative approach has enabled this to be the largest coordinated return of ancestral human remains in our country's history.
"We hope this momentous repatriation encourages other institutions around the world to follow suit," Hakiwai said.
This significant repatriation is a culmination of 15 years of research and negotiation by the Moriori people and the Karanga Aotearoa Repatriation Programme.