National | Hawaii

Hawaiian ancestral remains repatriated from Canterbury museum

Image / CNHA

The remains of three Hawaiian tūpuna have been repatriated from Aotearoa after more than 160 years.

The Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement negotiated the return with the Canterbury Museum in Christchurch where the remains were held.

The iwi kūpuna or skeletal remains of a male and female both aged between 20 – 30 and a female in her 40s were taken in 1860 from Waikiki.

A formal handover ceremony was held at Te Papa Tongarewa museum in Wellington on May 29 where the remains were received by council members.

The return is the latest in a series of 62 iwi kūpuna repatriations in Germany, England, Ireland and Scotland.

Mehanaokala Hind, a senior director of community programs with the council, said there was an immense need to take their kūpuna home as more remains were identified in museums and research institutions across the globe.

“As institutions become enlightened and their humanity opens the once locked doors, the opportunity to reunite iwi kūpuna and their homeland is promising. None of this can be done without the continued vigilance of Native Hawaiian descendants,” she said.