Austria returns remains of Maori and Moriori to New Zealand

The Natural History Museum in Vienna is returning the remains of the indigenous Maori and Moriori people to New Zealand, where they were stolen by Austrian grave robbers in the 19th century. The remains were released on Tuesday.

The remains of 64 indigenous Maori and Moriori people of Polynesia were transported from New Zealand and Chatham Island more than 130 years ago. Most of the human bones were stolen by Austrian miner and notorious grave robber Andreas Reschek, who visited New Zealand for 12 years until 1889.

The finds have been in the collection of the Natural History Museum in Vienna for decades, and in New Zealand they are currently taken over by the National Museum in Wellington, Te Papa.

Later, they will agree with the indigenous tribes about the final resting place of the remains.

The recovery of the remains is carried out under a government program that began in 2003, the purpose of which is to return the remains of indigenous people who have been kidnapped from the country.

In July, New Zealand received the remains of 111 Moriori and two Maori from the Natural History Museum in London. The Smithsonian Institution in Washington returned the remains of 54 Maori in 2016.

Reischek mentioned in his memoirs that he stole graves without permission in the Chatham Islands, Christchurch and Auckland.

The repatriation of the remains marks the end of negotiations between New Zealand and Austria that began in 1945, when Maori leaders first demanded the return of the remains.

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Arabata Hakiwai, a Maori expert involved in military affairs, said the return of the remains provides an opportunity to come to terms with the colonial past and opens a new page in relations between Maori and Moriori, as well as the governments of New Zealand and Austria. Coming home and the former manager of T Papa.

Catherine Volland, director of the Natural History Museum in Vienna, agreed, and confirmed that the return of the remains It was motivated by the desire for “reconciliation.” I’m glad we can contribute to the healing process – he added.

On Sunday, the return of the remains will be celebrated with a reception for the Maori, Poheri, in Wellington.

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