The Karanga Aotearoa Repatriation Programme has worked with the Rouen Museum to facilitate the repatriation of Māori ancestral remains to Te Papa since 2007, as part of the wider repatriation initiative of the programme.
In 2007, Rouen Museum requested the repatriation of a Toi moko in their possession. Among those from the Museum involved in initiating the return of the first Toi moko were the Rouen Mayor Valerie Fourneyron, former-Mayor Pierre Albertini, and the Rouen Museum director Sébastien Minchin.
In order to overcome issues of legality, Rouen Senator Catherin Morin-Desailly and Senator Richet proposed a new bill which would allow the Toi moko to be repatriated. This bill was passed on the 5th of May 2010, and marked a change in the French attitude towards the repatriation of human remains held in their museums and institutions.
The Toi moko that was housed at Rouen Museum was given by a Parisian, Louis Hegesippe Drouet in 1875, and their accession notes record that it was of a Māori warrior.
See a facsimile of the original accession record in French (JPEG)
Drouet was an employee of Jean Pierre Elme Leduc, a wealthy businessman and land owner. Leduc had land near Mauritius, and his brother was friendly with a 2nd Lieutenant on the exploration frigate 'Artemis'. This ship travelled to Port Jackson in Sydney and Hokianga in New Zealand. It is possible that during this expedition, a Toi moko was purchased and somehow ended up in Drouet's possession. At this stage Te Papa cannot confirm how, where, when or who gave Mr L H Drouet the Toi moko.
Read more about Louis Drouet (Word, 76KB)
Read Jean Pierre Elme Leduc's will:
Translated into English (Word, 32KB)
Fascsimile of original in French (PDF 329KB)
See also First repatriation of Māori remains from Rouen Museum, France