Friday, January 14, 2005

NEWS - Toi Moko Maori heads to be returned to New Zealand

Finishing up the story about the Maori heads and Kakapo Feather Cloak in Perth Scotland, a committee has agreed to the request for the return of the heads to New Zealand.

From both ends of the Earth, we have reports from The New Zealand Herald
Two preserved Maori heads are to be removed from storage in a Scottish museum and returned to New Zealand after a request for their repatriation was met today.

The tattooed heads, toi moko, are currently stored in Perth Museum, along with an 18th Century kakapo feather cloak and about 65 other taonga (treasure), such as tools, carvings and jewellery.

At a meeting today, Perth and Kinross Council's lifelong learning committee agreed unanimously to honour the request from Te Papa.
The two preserved tattooed ‘toi moko’ heads date back to 1822 when they were acquired by Perth-born ship’s surgeon, David Ramsay, who then sent them to the Literary and Antiquarian Society of Perth three years’ later.
Michael Taylor, head of arts and heritage with Perth and Kinross Council, gave a presentation to committee members and told them that David Ramsay studied medicine at Edinburgh University and then set up home in Sydney, Australia.

He went on to explain the importance of the artifacts to the Maori people.

“The Maori regard the head as the most sacred part of the body. They remove it and it remains with the particular clan.

“The more tattoos, the higher status you had,” he said.