Mummified Maori head arrives in New Zealand as Warrington returns Toi moko icon

By Culture24 Reporter | 11 November 2013

A mummified head, held at Warrington Museum and Art Gallery for 170 years after being brought to Britain by an explorer, has returned to the national museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa, following a ceremony in the north-west.

A photo of a ceremony in which people in suits are carrying an artefact outside a museum
A collaboration between museums in Wellington and Warrington has resulted in the return of a Maori head following an inspiring ceremony in the Cheshire town© Culture Warrington
Representatives from Wellington visited England, Ireland and Guernsey to collect eight Maori tattooed heads during October. The Toi mokos are said to have been greeted with “an outpouring of grief” by Maori residents upon their return.

"It has been a privilege to work with Warrington Borough Council and Warrington Museum to achieve the return of the Warrington Toi moko to his homeland,” said Te Herekiekie Herewini, the Repatriation Manager at Te Papa Museum.

"This generosity of spirit reminds New Zealanders of our long standing relationship between our two peoples."

Curators in Cheshire had been mindful of cultural sensitivities surrounding the heads.

“We have been prepared to repatriate the Toi Moko, which was held in Warrington Museum, for a long time,” reflected Maureen Banner, the Chair of Culture Warrington.

“We recognise that the right thing to do is to return the Toi Moko to its home. We respect the Maori culture and were delighted to be asked to be involved in the repatriation ceremony.”

Councillor Kate Hannon, of the Borough Council, said it had been “a pleasure” to host a repatriation event in the north-west before the head was flown from Gatwick in a protective crate.

“We have a good understanding of different cultures and know it was appropriate to repatriate Toi moko,” she added.

“This special item is now back where it belongs in its Maori homeland.”

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

A photo of a woman from New Zealand wearing a green wreath and crying next to a rug
© Culture Warrington
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