Waihi Marae, Karanga Aotearoa Repatriation Programme photo, 2012

How does Te Papa return the Toi moko to their origins within New Zealand 

There is limited information associated with many of the Toi moko in Te Papa’s wāhi tapu.  This is due both to the stigma attached to their trade, and also the number of times that the Toi moko changed hands between traders and institutions.  The Repatriation Team undertakes as much research into the provenance of each Toi moko as possible.  Some institutions are able to provide more information about a Toi moko’s background than others.   

Toi moko are more difficult to repatriate domestically than kōiwi and koimi tangata.  There is not often documentation about the location or area from which a Toi moko was traded, which makes it hard to identify the Toi moko’s origin.   

In May 2011, one Toi moko was repatriated from Rouen Museum in France.  The difficulty of researching this Toi moko’s history is a typical example of the challenges faced once Toi moko are returned to New Zealand from overseas.  Rouen Museum was able to provide the name of the donor of the Toi moko, but now the Repatriation Team must undertake further research to find out when and how it was obtained by the donor.  

For more information see Rouen Repatriation 2011