Montreal museum gives up mummified head

Posted By: Jason Mayoff · 11/21/2012 4:54:00 PM

The mummified head of a Maori warrior, the last one believed to be in the possession of a Canadian museum, is headed home.

The remains of the male warrior with tattooed skin were handed over to authorities of a New Zealand museum in a traditional ceremony today.

Maori officials say they've spent a quarter-century trying to have remains removed from display around the world and returned home for a proper burial.

They say some 320 remains from the 500 known sets around the world, located in 14 different countries.

They say their mission in Canada is complete. Today's ceremony marked the fifth and last Canadian head to be returned from a museum in this country.

The Toi Moko, the name given to remains of Maori origin, dates back to the 19th century and was briefly on display at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts between 1982 and 1984.

Since then, the head has been in storage and, last year, the Montreal institution's board voted unanimously to return the remains.

Photo: Representatives of the Maori people sing at the Museum of Fine Arts in Montreal, Wednesday, November 21, 2012, during a ceremony where a Toi Moko (Maori head) was returned by the museum to the Maori of New Zealand. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes"

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