4 Apr 2014

FBI seizes Maori artefacts

6:32 am on 4 April 2014

American authorities have confiscated thousands of Native American and taonga Maori from a private collector.

CBS News reports a man in Indiana, Donald Miller, 91, may have knowingly and unwittingly gathered objects in violation of international, state and federal laws.

The FBI special agent in charge of the case Robert Jones is suspicious of the way items were acquired.

He says Mr Miller had amassed an extensive collection over eight decades, including artefacts and relics as well as items from New Zealand, Australia, New Guinea, China, the United States, South America and possibly other nations.

Mr Jones says Mr Miller had travelled extensively, and the FBI is trying to determine the exact time and method of each acquisition.

The FBI special agent says the items were stored in several buildings on Donald Miller's rural property southeast of Indianapolis and are being identified for repatriation to their country of origin.

He says about 200 people are involved in the process, which could take years.

Mr Jones says at this stage Donald Miller has not been arrested or charged with any crime.