Sweden hands back Maori skulls

The remains of three Maori aboriginals were returned Friday at a solemn ceremony in Lund, in the south of Sweden.

The remains, discovered in New Zealand in 1876, came here via London and ended up at the anatomical department and later department of history at Lund University.

The return of the bones is part of a repatriation scheme, carried out by the New Zealand national museum, where the remains of 360 Maoris will be returned to the country.

“This is an important ceremony and a touching moment,” said Barbara Bridge, the New Zealand ambassador in Sweden, said ahead of the ceremony.

She took the opportunity to thank Lund University and the Swedish government for their ‘exemplary’ cooperation.

Michelle Hippolyte of the Museum of New Zealand explained why Friday’s ceremony was so important.

“This is both a sad and happy day. This ceremony is a kind of funeral service but at the same time it marks the beginning of a new journey and we welcome our ancestors home. With the help of these remains we will be able to learn more of where they came from,” she said.

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