France Decides to Return Tatood Maori Remains

Last week the French National Assembly made the decision to return the mummified heads of 16 Maoris.  Maoris kept the tatooed heads and preserved them to honor their forebears.  When Europeans encountered these, many of the heads were taken back to Europe and put on display in museums.  New Zealand has requested these heads—as many as 500 heads may have been taken by colonial powers—since the 1980’s, but the issue gained widespread attention in 2007 when a city council voted to return one head.  The decision was overturned by the French Culture Ministry in part because these objects had ceased to become only human remains but had also become works of art.  The French Assembly has overwhelmingly decided to return the heads to New Zealand within the next year. 

  1. Maori Heads – Top 10 Famous Stolen Body Parts – TIME, http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1988719_1988728_1988720,00.html (last visited May 14, 2010).
  2. France to return 15 Maori heads, BBC, May 5, 2010, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8661231.stm (last visited May 14, 2010).
  3. AFP: French parliament votes to return Maori heads to New Zealand, , http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jtL1CzbXXwAe2W9N6IedQHuTPawg (last visited May 14, 2010).
Questions or Comments? Email me at derek.fincham@gmail.com

2 thoughts on “France Decides to Return Tatood Maori Remains”

  1. The surprising point is that Europeans could ever consider the dead bodies of other peoples,usually revered as ancestors,as objects for museum. Hopefully all those having such heads will return them soon. Finally,Westerners should start respecting the religious and cultural beliefs of other peoples.

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