21 Aug 2014

France to return Atai's head to New Caledonia

2:07 pm on 21 August 2014

France will return the head of a Kanak high chief to New Caledonia - 136 years after Atai was beheaded for resisting the colonisers in La Foa.

The head's return was promised last year by the then prime minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, during a visit to New Caledonia.

Next week, a ceremony is to be held in Paris at the Natural History Museum, where the relic of Atai has been kept.

The overseas minister is due to hand it over to a chief from La Foa, Berge Kawa, who is one of Atai's descendants.

As Kanaks claimed the head's return in recent years, it was officially declared missing.

However, three years ago it was found at a Paris museum.

Atai was killed and decapitated when the colonial administrators put down a Kanak rebellion against their decision to expand their land expropriation.