NZer returns treasures pilfered from Burma

8:12 am on 20 July 2017

A New Zealand man will today hand back treasures his great-great-grandfathers ransacked from a Burmese pagoda more than 160 years ago.

 Shwemawdaw Pagoda is a stupa located in Bago. It needed repairs in January 2015.

The items were taken from the Shwemawdaw Pagoda in Bago more than 160 years ago. Photo: AFP

Gareth Bodle has travelled to Myanmar to return items including a silver Buddha, a temple gong and a brass incense burner in the shape of a snake.

Mr Bodle said his ancestors, Major Donald George Angus Darroch and Ensign George Bodle, took the treasures during the capture of Shwemawdaw Pagoda in Bago in 1852.

"I think that we have to concede the term 'pilfer'. For the British troops these were novelties of a pagan race that they were subjugating," Mr Bodle said.

"The pagodas were strong defensive positions and once they won the positions they went through and took them as spoils of war.

"The historians tell me that anything that could be fitted in a backpack was."

He said returning the items, which were hundreds of years old, was the right thing to do, as they have much more meaning to the local people than to him and his family.

"And you can see at the temples here how important these things are, whereas for us they are merely ornaments," Mr Bodle said.

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