New Zealand Museum Te Papa Tongarewa has lobbied and won the repatriation of over 54 mummified bodies including 4 Maori heads from the Smithsonian Museum.
The mummified bodies were traded, collected and sold dating back to the 1800’s. In total, New Zealand has repatriated over 60 bodies and Maori heads from private and public collections in United States and UK.
In the Maori culture, the mummified heads were the most important part of the body, many being chiefs and warriors. As western explorers began expeditions in the country, the Maori heads became increasingly sought after.
New Zealand thanked the Smithsonian for their respect and return of the bodies. This is the second largest effort to repatriate the Moari heads and bodies back to their homeland since 1990.