14 Aug 2013

Post mortem tattooing of Maori heads makes identification difficult

7:13 pm on 14 August 2013

A leader in repatriation says performing CT scans and X-rays could help identify the origins of mummified Maori heads.

It's difficult to work out where mummified Maori heads originated from because many had their traditional moko tattooed over after death.

Te Papa Tongarewa Museum is expecting the return of nine mummified toi moko (Maori heads) and five skeletal remains from museums in England and Ireland in October.

Its manager of repatriation Te Herekiekie Herewini says there are about 600 Maori and Moriori remains in international museums.

He says the main goal is to bring them home and CT scans and X-rays could help ensure they are returned to the correct iwi.