Page last updated at 17:28 GMT, Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Sweden sends back Maori remains


Hema Temara of the Te Papa Tongarewa museum was part of the traditional Maori ceremony

Officials from two museums in Sweden have handed over the remains of five indigenous Maori people to their New Zealand counterparts.

The remains include one almost complete skeleton, a skull, and three other skeleton parts.

The ceremony was held at the Natural History Museum in Gothenburg.

Museums across Europe have been repatriating human remains taken from indigenous burial grounds during colonial times.

The formal handing over involved a traditional Maori ceremony, including songs and prayers.

Te Herekiekie Herewini, repatriation manager of the Museum of New Zealand (Te Papa Tongarewa), thanked the Natural History Museum and the Museum of World Culture, also based in Gothenburg, for returning the body parts.

"This is significant for Maori as it is believed that through the ancestors' return to their homeland, the dead and their living descendants will retrieve their dignity, and also close the hurt and misdeeds of the past," he said.

On Saturday, Sweden returned 22 skulls taken from Hawaii and on Monday the National Museum and Gallery of Wales also gave back Maori remains.

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