Repatriation of Maori human remains

YouTube Video

Wellington, New Zealand, 10 September 2007

The audio used in the making of this film originally aired on "The World" (a co-production of the BBC, PRI, and WGHB Boston) on 7 September 2007.  All images are © Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

These images are supplied for your personal study and research only.  Any further reproduction of these images requires the permission of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa  If your image has been used in this film and you would like it removed please contact John Terrell at the Field Museum.
A print transcript of this audio presentation is available at:

Regenstein Curator of Pacific Anthropology John Edward Terrell and A. Watson Armour III Curator Robert Martin traveled to New Zealand in September 2007 to participate in the official repatriation of Maori ancestral remains held by The Field Museum.  This was the first repatriation of Maori ancestral remains from a mainland museum in the USA. 

Another unusual aspect of the repatriation was that John and Bob were accompanied by a delegation of seven American Indian representatives, including Joe Podlasek of the Ojibwe Tribe, Executive Director of the American Indian Center in Chicago (, and Mavis “Moneeka” Neconish (Menominee Nation, and an American Indian Center Board member) of the Department of Anthropology. 

The American Indian Center has developed a close and special relationship with Ruatepupuke II, our Maori meeting house here at The Field Museum.

A moving ceremony took place at The National Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongawera in Wellington on Monday 10th September on the marae  (forecourt) of the visually stunning modern marae that had been built at Te Papa as a cooperative effort by numerous Maori artists.  

Favorable news items concerning this event were published the next day in The Dominium Post and in the New Zealand Herald.

After the official proceedings at Te Papa, John Terrell and the full Native American delegation traveled on to Pakirikiri Marae at Tokomaru Bay, accompanied by two representatives from Te Papa.

Tokomaru Bay is where Ruatepupuke II originally stood until the house was dismantled and sold to a foreigner who exported it to Germany some time late in the last decade of the 19th Century.