Paris museum returns mummified Maori heads

Quai Branly Museum not to return other artefacts

Published on 13 October 2011

Author(s): Australian Network News

Type:  News

The president of the Paris museum which is organising the restitution of about 20 mummified Maori heads to New Zealand, said it is not considering returning any other artefacts.

A law recognising the Maori heads are body parts and allowing for their return to New Zealand was passed by the French parliament last year, and the first was taken back in May 2010.

Last week the president of the Quai Branly Museum, Stephane Martin, confirmed the remaining heads held by French collections would be returned in an official ceremony in January.

A Paris museum is returning mummified Maori heads to New Zealand. [ABC].jpg
A Paris museum is returning mummified Maori heads to New Zealand. [ABC]

But he has insisted that they are being returned because they are body parts that cannot be displayed and have no cultural gain, and would not be considering returning any other foreign artefacts in his museum's collection.

Mr Martin says the heads should be considered differently to other museum artefacts.

"It's always uncomfortable to talk globally of restitution because each case has to be addressed distinctly and separately. I certainly don't feel any kind of ownership of what I have and what I show in this museum," he said.

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