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Ngākahu Past and Future Workshops

Ngākahu National Repatriation Project was developed to support museums, iwi, hapū and other communities in the return of kōiwi tūpuna (ancestral human remains) back to their descendant communities. One of the ways in which we do that is to facilitate a number of workshops on topics relevant to the needs of museums throughout Aotearoa New Zealand.

Future Workshops

  • Media training, practical session, online – April 2022
  • Iwi Engagement Workshop, Marlborough Museum – March 2022 (date tbc)
  • Care of documentation associated with kōiwi tangata, online – 2022
  • Policies, Declarations and Te Tiriti o Waitangi in relation to repatriation of kōiwi tangata, online – 2022
  • Provenance research - 2022

Past Workshops

Media training: Theory, techniques and approaches
28 February 2022, via Zoom

The topic of repatriation of human remains can attract great public and media attention. Press coverage can show repatriation in a positive light, but engaging with the media can also feel intimidating. Taking a prepared approach can ensure that this mahi (work) is handled in a sensitive and respectful way. This workshop focused on building participant’s skill and confidence in dealing with the media with talks from Chris Wikaira (BRG Communications) and Kate Camp (Head of Marketing and Communications, Te Papa). Topics covered included understanding the New Zealand media landscape, interview techniques and examples of different types of media approaches. 

This workshop will be followed up with a series of smaller practical sessions where we will role-play some real-life scenarios.


Physical care and storage of kōiwi tangata
9 July, 2021 Canterbury Museum

As we move into a new phase of museology and repatriation is becoming part of our ‘business as usual’, museum staff are interacting more frequently with the kōiwi tangata (human remains) held in their collections. This workshop was focused on the physical aspects of care and storage of the tūpuna (ancestors). It included guidance on conservation, condition reporting, nesting, boxing, labelling, wāhi tapu (a restricted space within a museum specifically for human remains) and tikanga (protocols).

Provenance Research Workshop
31st March 2021, Te Papa

Provenance research is an essential part of museological practice, and even more so when it comes to repatriation, whether kōiwi tangata (human remains) or taonga (objects). This workshop has been designed to aid museums in undertaking provenance research of kōiwi tangata held within their institutions. The aim of the workshop is to provide researcher with tools to undergo this type of in depth research to enable ancestors to return to their descendants and to the whenua from which they were taken. 

Knowing your obligations: Laws, Policies and International Considerations in the Repatriation of Ancestral Human Remains 
13–14 July 2020, via Zoom

With the repatriation of ancestral human remains becoming increasingly normalised throughout museums in Aotearoa, it is important for us become aware of and understand what our obligations are when planning these returns.

The process of repatriation can range from being relatively straight forward, to requiring a significant amount of planning and communication with several organisations and government departments in Aotearoa and further afield.

The purpose of this workshop is to provide museums with the necessary tools and information needed to repatriate ancestral remains, back to their iwi, hapū, whānau and communities of origin.

The Ministry for Culture and Heritage, Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Customs, Heritage New Zealand, the New Zealand Police and Air New Zealand have been brought together to provide information relating to the movement of ancestral remains through and out of Aotearoa.

Audio Recordings for workshop:

Further information provided by:

Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage: 

Pouhere Taonga Heritage New Zealand: 

Te Arikirangi Mamaku (Karanga Aotearoa Repatriation Programme): 


Iwi Engagement Workshop

31st January 2020, Waikato Museum

Establishing relationships with iwi, hapū and whānau is an important part of museological practice here in Aotearoa New Zealand. Museums have an obligation to recognise the “relationship established by Te Tiriti o Waitangi” and “accept that the principles of tino rangatiratanga apply to many aspects of museum and art gallery work”.

Creating meaningful relationships with local tangata whenua or iwi and hapū further afield can sometimes feel like unknown territory. The purpose if this workshop is to provide museum staff with a better understanding of the importance of these relationships; why museums should engage with iwi and hapū; and how iwi and hapū would like these relationships to be developed.

This workshop aims to provide museum staff with some helpful tools to engage, re-establish, and advance mutually beneficial relationships with iwi Māori.


Bone Identification Workshop

5th November 2019, Nelson Provincial Museum

This workshop was taken by Professor Hallie Buckley and Stacey Ward (Department of Anatomy, Otago Museum). The purpose of the workshop was to provide museum staff with an introduction to distinguishing human from non-human and infant human remains, as well as Māori/Moriori remains from non-Māori/Moriori remains.

For further information please contact Kaiārahi | Project Lead: Jamie Metzger