General Ralph Darling (1775-1858), Governor of New South Wales from 1825 to 1831

When was the trade of Māori ancestral remains banned 

The trade in Toi moko had “reached such scandalous proportions” that in 1831, Governor Darling in Sydney imposed a ban on the trade of Māori ancestral remains, following lobbying by the missionary Samuel Marsden. The Governor was particularly opposed to large numbers of Toi moko being traded at once, such as 14 traded to the ship Prince of Denmark while it was in Thames. 

Read the Governor’s declaration on Thursday 21 April 1831 in The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser.

The ban included a fine of ₤40 for anyone found continuing the traffic, and the condition that the names of traders involved would be published.  An Act of Parliament confirming the ban on the trade of Māori ancestral remains was passed soon after. 


Aranui, Amber. Of Mana & Muskets: Research into the Trade and Collection of Toi Moko, Wellington: Karanga Aotearoa Repatriation Programme, presentation 14 April 2011. 

Orchiston, D. Wayne. “Preserved Human Heads of the New Zealand Maoris”, Journal of the Polynesian Society, Vol. 76, 1967, pp. 297-329. 

Te Awekotuku, Ngahuia. “He Maimai Aroha: A Disgusting Traffic for Collectors: The Colonial Trade in Preserved Human Heads in Aotearoa, New Zealand”, in A Kiendl ed. Obsession, Compulsion, Collection: On Objects, Display Culture and Interpretation, Alberta: The Banff Centre Press, 2004.