23 Jan 2012

Repatriation process of ancestral heads begins

6:49 am on 23 January 2012

The first stage in the formal repatriation of 20 Maori ancestral heads from nine museums and one university in France, takes place in Paris on Monday.

The toi moko will be handed over to members of Te Papa museum's repatriation team, at the Musee du Quai Branly museum in a ceremony led by the French Ministry of Culture.

The museum has seven toi moko which it's believed were collected during French expeditions in the 1820's, and were traded by Maori in exchange for muskets and gun powder.

The return of the heads, which is part of the Karanga Aotearoa Repatriation programme, has been made possible as the result of a bill being passed in May 2010 by the French Parliament's lower house.

There will be a repatriation powhiri ceremony for the toi moko at Te Papa on Thursday afternoon.