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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 June, 2004, 15:38 GMT 16:38 UK
Maori heads will return to NZ
Maori carved wooden ancestral figure
The heads have tattoos on them similar to this figure
Glasgow City Council has decided to return three preserved Maori heads to New Zealand.

The tattooed heads, along with a leg bone, have never been on public display and are currently locked away at the city's Kelvingrove Art Gallery.

A request for the return of the artefacts was made in March by New Zealand's national museum, Te Papa.

Councillors on the cultural and leisure services committee agreed to the request at a meeting on Thursday.

The three tattooed heads are known in Maori culture as toi moko.

One was purchased by Glasgow Museums from a Liverpool menagerie in 1906.

Forty wives

The other two were donated to the city by a collector in 1951.

Archibald Shanks donated the heads 50 years after purchasing them from the Blair Museum at Dalry in 1901.

An undated extract from the diary of Mr Shanks said that one of the heads was of a New Zealand chief who had 40 wives.

They were never put on public display because as human remains, they cannot be legally owned by the council, only entrusted to them.

They will be treated by native Maori and given the respect of their own people
John Lynch
Committee convener
The council's newly-established repatriation of artefacts working group had already approved the return of the remains to New Zealand.

The group's chairman John Lynch is convener of the cultural and leisure services committee.

He said that returning the remains was "the right thing to do".

"The Te Papa Museum will be charged with identifying which tribe the remains come from and then returning them for disposal," he said.

"Otherwise the museum will have care of them and they will be treated by native Maori and given the respect of their own people.

"There's a different attitude around now compared to that rife in colonial times when the gruesome practice of collecting human remains was a hobby."

Country profile: New Zealand
27 May 04  |  Country profiles
Maori march to defend beaches
05 May 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Kelvingrove closes to public
29 Jun 03  |  Scotland

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