27 Jan 2012

Toi moko finally in national museum

2:04 pm on 27 January 2012

Twenty toi moko, or Maori ancestral heads, that have been returned from France are now housed in a secure area of the national museum, Te Papa Tongarewa, in Wellington.

A two-hour powhiri was held for the preserved heads at the museum's marae, Rongomaraeroa, on Friday morning. About 300 people took part in the ceremony.

The heads were carried to the marae in individual wooden crates by members of the French Embassy and staff from Te Papa and the Karanga Aotearoa Repatriation Programme.

The museum's kaihautu, or Maori leader, Michelle Hippolite, says it's a great feeling to finally have the toi moko returned after nearly five years of working with France to do so.

The ceremony was supposed to have taken place a day earlier but high winds in Wellington forced a plane carrying the toi moko to turn back to Auckland on Thursday afternoon.