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Friday, July 3, 1998 Published at 02:50 GMT 03:50 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

Preserved Maori heads return to New Zealand

A ceremony has been held in New Zealand to mark the return of eleven preserved Maori heads which had been taken to Britain as part of a lucrative trade in such curiosities which developed in the nineteenth century.

Under ancient Maori custom, the heads or hearts of people who died away from home were preserved and taken back to their village for a proper burial.

It's believed that hundreds of these tattooed heads are now held by museums and other institutions around the world.

Members of the Maori community, who make up thirteen percent of New Zealand's population say their return is vital in helping to heal historical grievances.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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