Repatriation team

Learn about the people behind the Karanga Aotearoa repatriation programme.

Te Herekiekie Haerehuka Herewini

Pouwhakahaere Kaupapa Pūtere Kōiwi (Head of Repatriation)

Photo courtesy of Linden-Stuttgart Museum, May 2023

Dr Te Herekiekie Herewini is the Head of Repatriation of the Karanga Aotearoa Repatriation Programme. The aim of the programme is to repatriate Māori and Moriori ancestral remains that are housed in institutions around the world. Te Herekiekie believes the programme’s work is not completed until every Māori and Moriori ancestor is returned home.

Tukuna mai he kapunga oneone hei tangi – Provide me with a handful of soil from my homeland so I may feel the warmth of my ancestors and weep.

Te Herekiekie Haerehuka Herewini is of Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Whanganui, Ngārauru Kītahi, Ngāti Ruanui, Pakakohi, Ngāti Apa, Whakatōhea, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Ngāti Mutunga, Ngāti Tama and Te Ātiawa descent. He was raised in Rātana pā before his whānau moved to Wellington in the 1970s.

Te Herekiekie began his current role in October 2007. His work includes:

  • strategic operations for the programme

  • negotiating the return of Māori and Moriori ancestral remains from institutions around the world

  • ensuring the safe return and care of tūpuna and karāpuna according to tikanga Māori and tikane Moriori

  • strengthening the research capability of the repatriation programme

  • providing education materials to inform communities and institutions about the history, trade, and collection of kōiwi tangata Māori, kōimi t’chakat and toi moko

  • actively reuniting tūpuna with their whānau, hapū, and iwi

  • consulting with iwi to find appropriate final resting places for kōiwi tangata Māori with unclear iwi or regional provenance.

Te Herekiekie has a Master of Arts (Honours) in Māori Studies from the University of Auckland, and a PhD in Māori Studies from the Victoria University of Wellington Te Herenga Waka.

PhD thesis, Papers, and Online Content

Contact Te Herekiekie Haerehuka Herewini
Phone: +64 (0) 4 381 7163

Susan Thorpe

Pou Rangahau Rautaki Kōiwi (Repatriation Researcher)

Susan Thorpe

Susan was part of the inaugural research team at Karanga Aotearoa, starting in 2004. She stepped away for a decade to live and work on Rēkohu Chatham Islands, where she is still based, but is back with the team on a permanent contract as Pou Rangahau Repatriation Researcher.

She has a Masters degree in Archaeology from the Institute of Archaeology, London. Her main research areas focus on landscape archaeology and indigenous methodologies, with a particular interest in bringing oral traditions into archaeological praxis.

Susan’s work is centred on provenance research to enable successful repatriation negotiations to proceed and for tūpuna Māori and karāpuna Moriori to return home to their final resting places. She is interested too in challenging the way we understand the process of returning ancestral remains.

Repatriation is a literal return to ancestral homelands but using the term rematriation embraces a reconnection with ancestral values; a restoration of balance.

Online papers

Contact Susan (`Ūana) Thorpe
Īmēra l Email:
Waea whare: +64 (03) 3050797 (Rēkohu)
Waea pūkoro/mobile: +64 274 573326