Repatriation research: Where to next

Ensuring that research information is correct is vital to any successful repatriation. In this guide, learn about the due diligence that is required when carrying out repatriation research. 

The research process includes confirming that information associated with each kōiwi tangata is correct – the researcher must confirm the associated information.

This provides a much stronger case for provenance, which is essential for iwi, hapū, and communities when considering the return of kōiwi tangata.

Some questions to consider include:

  • How sure are you about the information?

  • How much proof do you have?

It is recommended that a colleague or member of your Māori Advisory is asked to peer review your document before it is sent out.

Once the research is complete, send the document to the relevant iwi, hapū, and, or, whānau group or groups (depending on the specific details of the provenance). This should align with your process for community engagement.

It is important to seek feedback from the relevant community or communities (iwi, hapū, whānau), as they are likely to further contribute to the research.

Ensure your report remains open to community input (such as oral history and personal experiences), including correction where necessary and further research if it is required for repatriation.

Once the report has been accepted, arrangements can be made for the return of kōiwi tangata.

Further information

  • Aranui, A K. ‘The Importance of Working with Communities – Combining Oral History, the Archive and Institutional Knowledge in Provenance Research. A Repatriation Perspective.’ In Provenienzforschung zu ethnografischen Sammlungen der Kolonailzeit: Positionen in der aktuellen Debatte, eds Förster, L, Edenheiser, I, FründT, S, and Hartman, H. München: Arbeitsgruppe Museum der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Sozial- und Kulturanthropologie, 2017

  • Aranui, A K. The Ethics of Repatriation and Working Collaboratively in Aotearoa New Zealand. Boasblog (online post, 2020.)

  • Fforde, C, Keeler, H, and Aranui, A. ‘Techniques of provenancing in the repatriation process’. In The Routledge Companion to Indigenous Repatriation: Return, Reconcile, Renew, eds C Fforde, C T McKeown, and H Keeler. London: Routledge, 2020

  • Miloschm, J and Pearce, N (eds). Collecting and Provenance: A Multidisciplinary Approach. London: Rowman and Littlefield, 2019

  • Smith, N K, and Aranui, A. ‘For Evolution’s Sake: The Collection and Exchange of Kōiwi Tangata from Te Waipounamu’. Archaeology in New Zealand 53 (3): 185-194

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