Art collections return human remains to New Zealand

Art collections return human remains to New Zealand


As of May 23, 2023 at 7:34 PM

New Zealand has been promoting the repatriation of its ancestors’ remains since 2003. In 2019 there were also initial talks with state ethnographic groups (SES) in Saxony. A delegation of New Zealand Maori and Moriori from the Chatham Islands visited Leipzig on Tuesday to receive bone and hair samples from 64 people.

Human remains have been returned to New Zealand by ethnographic groups of Saxony. Samples of Maori hair and bones from New Zealand and Moriori from the Chatham Islands were returned at a ceremony in Leipzig on Tuesday.

Representatives from New Zealand traveled to Leipzig

Specifically, they’re bone and hair samples from 64 people, the Dresden State Art Collections (SKD) announced. Officials from New Zealand also attended the ceremony. Plaster casts of eight Maori were also returned. She said the indigenous community understood them as ancestors. Also brought home a lethal good. It is a wooden club taken from a grave with three individuals.

On the return of the bones, the delegation of the indigenous descendants of Māori and Moriori said that a step towards reconciliation was now being taken.
Image credit: Dresden State Art Collections/Tom Dax

The remains come in part from grave looting

SKD no longer sees bones as collectibles

Saxony’s Minister of Culture, Barbara Klisch (CDU), described the return as an important step in dealing with the colonial legacy of Saxony’s Free State groups. SKD General Director Marion Ackermann emphasized that her foundation no longer viewed human bones in the Anthropological Collection as scientific objects and collectors’ items, but as human remains.

Bringing Aboriginal Bones Home Opens a Path to Reconciliation

Free State first met a return request in 2017, from Hawaii. Most of the bones came to Saxony during the colonial period and are preserved there in anthropological collections.

In 2019, the first talks took place with representatives from New Zealand. At that time it was agreed to prepare to return. New Zealand has been pursuing the so-called repatriation of human remains since 2003. Representatives who traveled to Leipzig on Tuesday said the return offered a path to reconciliation. “The museum’s genuine commitment to bringing home the original bones allows our country to shed light on a very dark period in our history,” said Te Hirkiki Hireweni.

More on this topic

This topic in the program:MDR SACHSEN – Radio Sachsenradio | Regional news from Leipzig Studio | May 23, 2023 | 17:30

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