8 Aug 2013

Toi moko coming home after 170 years

1:09 pm on 8 August 2013

A tattooed Maori head is to be returned to New Zealand after more than 170 years.

Taken to Britain about 1840, the toi moko has been part of the collection at the Warrington Museum in the north-western county of Cheshire. In 2004 New Zealand's national museum, Te Papa Tongarewa, requested its return as part of a repatriation programme.

It'sone of eight toi moko and five skeletal remains from England and Ireland due to be returned in October, and Te Papa says it's been a long time coming.

Repatriation manager Teherekiekie Herewini, who says foreign museums do a lot of deliberating before deciding to return artefacts, says about 600 Maori and Moriori remains are still in the United States, Europe and Britain.

"Our ultimate goal," he says, "is to replace the heads back to their real origin or whanau of origin and so at the moment we're in the process of bringing all the toi moko back where we can undertake research on their moko pattern."

Mr Herewini says a group will collect the artefacts in October.