The remains of sixty Māori and Moriori individuals have been returned from the Smithsonian Institution to Te Papa Tongarewa in an emotional ceremony today. But what is the cost to the taxpayer, and is it worth the dollars?
Around $100,000 was spent on repatriating the remains contained in these boxes.
Dr Arapeta Hakiwai says it was worth every cent, “We don't pay for our ancestors.
These costs are associated with transporting them back from those museums.”
Washington DC's Smithsonian Institution released the remains of 54 Māori and Moriori, including four Toi Moko. There are also a further six individuals from UK and US museums.
Maui Solomon believes the cost is justified, “We spent 26mil on flag referendum we didn't get a result so $100k to bring back 60 tupuna seems pretty economical to me.”
The remains in these boxes come from the dark days. A shady past Dr Arapeta Hakiwai hopes to shed some light on.
“Some were stolen last century. Collectors either stole or traded them. We have a huge task in finding who they are and where they're from.”
Te Papa Tongarewa will carry out forensic tests on the remains, and preparations to return the Moriori remains to their descendants have already begun.
Solomon says, “We'll be even happier when we repatriate them back to Rekohu and we are working with Te Papa to do that next year or hopefully in the next two years because there are still alot more of our karapuna te bring back.”
Hopefully, the remains of the Moriori will be returned to Rēkohu in the near future, where they can finally be laid to rest in peace.