7 Jul 2011

Missing Kanak chiefly head found in Paris museum

3:04 pm on 7 July 2011

The head of a Kanak high chief, believed to be missing after being taken from New Caledonia, has been found in the storage area of a French museum.

The warrior Atai was killed and decapitated in 1878 when the colonial administrators put down a Kanak rebellion.

His head was taken to Paris and as Kanaks reclaimed its return in recent years, it was officially declared missing.

However, it has been found at the Museum Of Mankind in Paris as France was preparing the recent return of Maori heads to New Zealand.

One of Atai's descendants says there is a strong wish that the head be returned and for a monument to be erected combined with a reconciliation ceremony.