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.

Upcoming Workshops

  • National Resting Place Project

  • Applications of the maramataka (Māori lunar calendar) to repatriation

  • Cultural health and safety

  • Learning from archaeological skills, methods and knowledge

Past Workshops

Return, Reconcile Renew Project

31 March 2023, Online

This online workshop was a chance for members of the New Zealand Repatriation Network to hear from members of the Return, Reconcile, Renew (RRR) Project Professor Cressida Fforde, Winsome Adam and Dr Amber Aranui. The team shared a background of the initiative, its outcomes and its majority indigenous governance structure, and showed us a live demonstration of the digital archive. This was a chance for the Network to place their work in a global context, understand how the RRR might be relevant to their practice and identify future opportunities for collaboration.

Tikanga Māori

3 November 2022, Omaka Marae

In this workshop facilitator Kiley Nepia (Hawaiki Kura) guided the group through a range of activities to connect to and learn more about Te Ao Māori (the Māori worldview) and fundamental Māori cultural values and practices. The workshop used the Wairau Bar repatriation as a local example of reconnecting and returning tūpuna (ancestors) back to iwi (tribal group). Participants gained more awareness of repatriation, its significance to descendant communities and the cultural practices revitalised during the return.

Repatriation and Collection Management

5 October 2022, via Zoom

This online workshop focused on the policies, processes and the real-life practicalities of navigating the care of museum-held human remains and other sensitive items. Panellists Te Arikirangi Mamaku-Ironside (Acting Head of Repatriation, Karanga Aotearoa), Dr Amber Aranui (Curator Mātauranga Māori), Kirsty Cox (Manager Collections Information Systems) and Gareth Watkins (Collections Data Manager) drew from their experiences to respond to four hypothetical scenarios that relate to repatriation and collection management:

• Our museum has just completed a repatriation, what do we do with the associated documentation?
• I just stumbled upon an image of human remains or other sensitive items, what do I do?
• We have received a complaint that an image of human remains or other sensitive item is published in our collections online portal, how should we respond?
• I have discovered associated documentation relating to human remains or other sensitive items, eg X-rays, historical labels, reports, how should I store them appropriately?

Repatriation Policy and NAPGRA with Dr C. Timothy McKeown

23 September 2022, Te Papa Tongarewa

Visiting legal anthropologist Dr C. Timothy McKeown led a one-day workshop related to repatriation and the American context. Dr McKeown gave the participants an overview of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) its legislative history and requirements. Sarah Murray (Head of Collections and Research) shared her reflections on Canterbury Museum’s repatriation to the Pacific Northwest in 2018.

In the final session the group discussed how to go about identifying Native American human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects and other objects of cultural patrimony in museum collections and what specific things we should be looking for; understanding if these items have any specific care and storage needs that museums should be considerate of; identifying what correct language and terminology we should be using; and advice for how a New Zealand museum go about navigating a repatriation of this kind, including how to identify the correct people to work with.

Ngākahu Wānanga

11-12 August 2022, Otago Museum and Otago University

Ngākahu presented this 2-day wānanga (workshop) in partnership with Otago Museum and Otago University for members of the NZ Repatriation Research Network. This event was a chance to meet together kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face) again after a long period of working online.

The Network meeting was followed by full programme of talks by Otago University and Otago Museum experts relating to how might different scientific techniques be applied to the repatriation process, animal bone identification, human anatomy, identifying burial context, advice for building your own comparative bone collection for completing identifications, tips for museum provenance research and current research happening in this space.

Vernon CMS training for care of sensitive records

29 June 2022, via zoom

Human remains have a unique status and should be treated with the highest standards of collections management whilst in your institutions care. In this Ngākahu facilitated training session, Paul Rowe (CEO/Director of Vernon Systems) demonstrated how to use Vernon CMS to care for sensitive records, specifically human remains and their associated burial goods.

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.

Media Training Workshop Presentation (326.97 KB)

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:

MCH Factsheet POA and kōiwi tangata (743.36 KB)

Pouhere Taonga Heritage New Zealand:

Pouhere Taonga Presentation (255.57 KB)

Te Arikirangi Mamaku (Karanga Aotearoa Repatriation Programme):

T A Mamaku – Returning Ancesrtal Remains Overseas (2.46 MB)

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