A group representing Chinese New Zealanders is calling for relics salvaged from the Ventnor shipwreck to be used in a travelling exhibition then placed in the care of Te Papa.
On Friday, the Ministry of Culture and Heritage placed notices in newspapers around the country, including the Northern Advocate, calling for claims from anyone who could prove ownership of five artefacts recovered by deep-sea divers from the Ventnor, which sank off Northland's west coast in 1902.
Interested parties could also make submissions about what they wanted done with the objects.
The ship is significant to Chinese New Zealanders because it was carrying the exhumed remains of 499 gold miners home to China for burial. The artefacts are a porthole, part of a ship's telegraph, a plate, a lamp holder and a bell.
Meng Foon, chairman of the New Zealand Chinese Association (NZCA), said his group supported a request by the miners' descendants that the artefacts, and any objects recovered in future, be owned by the NZ Government.
"Our hope is that we may have a travelling exhibition in the first instance, and then have Te Papa be the guardians of the artefacts," Mr Foon said.
Replicas could be made for a museum in Guangzhou, the province where most of the miners came from. The NZCA would make a submission to the ministry, he said.
"It's important that we make our views known and respond appropriately to the wishes of the Chinese descendants of the SS Ventnor."
The removal of objects from the wreck before it came under Heritage NZ protection initially sparked anger from some members of the Chinese community.
But Mr Foon, who is also the Mayor of Gisborne, said the NZCA thanked the divers, led by film-maker John Albert, for bringing the artefacts to the surface and handing them over to the police museum for safekeeping.
"We ask that all parties be respectful to each other and agree to work on this project collaboratively for the betterment of all involved."
Mr Foon said the Chinese community was also grateful to Te Roroa and Te Rarawa iwi, who discovered the miners' remains along the west coast more than 100 years ago and buried them alongside their own people.
Their manaakitanga (hospitality) and kaitiakitanga (guardianship) for ancestors of the Chinese community was "very spiritual and moving", he said.