For much of its history, the Museum collected kōiwi tangata/human remains. We recognise the hurt this caused for communities and that our practices were not ethical and are now committed to redress through the repatriation of tūpuna/ancestors at the Museum.
The Museum has been repatriating kōiwi tangata/ human remains since the 1980s. Initially this occurred only in response to requests. In 2002 the Museum began a pro-active repatriation programme, under the leadership of the Museum’s Māori Advisory Board, the Taumata-ā-Iwi. Since this time, it has been the Museum’s policy to make all unmodified kōiwi tangata/human remains available for repatriation to their iwi or country of origin.
We have a dedicated repatriation team working with iwi and source communities both in Aotearoa New Zealand and abroad to return these tūpuna (ancestors) to their whenua/homelands and descendants.
What to do if you find kōiwi tangata/human remains
If you find kōiwi tangata/human remains in Aotearoa New Zealand, it is important not to disturb them and to contact your local police station. Under the Coroner's Act 2006, the police must be informed of finds of kōiwi tangata/human remains. Police will work with archaeologists, iwi liaisons and others to determine next steps.
For more information see:
The Museums Aotearoa National Repatriation Policy for Kōiwi Tangata and Associated Burial Tonga
The Ngākahu National Repatriation Partnership