19 Apr 2012

Tribes to have say on open-or-shut ancestral remains

6:45 am on 19 April 2012

Iwi and hapu are to be canvassed on how Maori ancestral remains should be officially welcomed home from overseas.

The protocol is in question after Te Papa Tongarewa refused a request to open the lids of boxes carrying toi moko, or preserved heads.

The appeal was made by a Tainui kaumatua, Te Wareta Taua, when he attended a pohiri at Te Papa to mark the return of 20 toi moko from France in January.

Te Papa says it will, for now, continue following its standard procedure of not removing lids.

But the museum's manager of the repatriation of toi moko and koiwi tangata, Te Herekiekie Herewini, says it will seek feedback from tribes as part of a series of iwi hui throughout the motu.

He says they can discuss whether or not transport cases carrying remains should be open or shut at arrival ceremonies.

Mr Herewini says the meetings will also be an opportunity for the repatriation team to tell iwi about their research.