France is set to approve a bill to return to New Zealand more than a dozen mummified Maori heads in what supporters say is a belated move to right the wrongs of European colonialism.

"The Maori heads that are still dispersed in European and US museums have a history that reminds us of the worst hours of colonialism," read the summary of the draft bill, which is due to be debated by the Senate in Paris.

Last year, France's Culture Ministry blocked the return of a Maori chief's head from a museum in Rouen to Te Papa, saying the move could mean that France would have to return mummies to Egypt. The ministry has said, however, that it favours the current proposal.