A Maori skull has been returned to its homeland after spending more than 130 years in Moray.
Maori representatives from New Zealand visited the Falconer Museum in Forres last Tuesday to reclaim the remains of one of their ancestors.
The Museum of New Zealand’s Hema Temara and Te Herekiekie Herewini led an emotional ceremony, which included many customs attached to the Pacific nation.
Mr Herewini sounded a conch shell to herald the skull’s arrival into the venue, and Ms Temara broke down in tears while chanting a heart-wrenching call to her Maori forebears.
Moray Council convener Allan Wright pressed his nose against Mr Herewini and Ms Temara’s noses, prior to signing forms officially endorsing the repatriation of the skull, a gesture intended to convey goodwill and respect.
Yesterday, the relic was returned to home soil – along with 59 other items of Maori remains from across the planet.
More than 50 of the items were repatriated from Washington DC’s Smithsonian Institute, including four toi moko – mummified tattooed Maori heads.
Remains from a further six individuals were returned from other US and UK institutions.
The repatriation programme was the second largest of its kind since the New Zealand government launched a campaign to reclaim all Maori remains from abroad in 2000.