Collection management: Repatriation
Find out what to do if your museum becomes involved in a repatriation claim.
What should my museum do if it becomes involved in a repatriation claim?
A repatriation claim could involve:
- your museum seeking the return of an object from another institution
- a request for your museum to return an object in its collection.
In either event, it is important that the process goes through the most senior members of your organisation and governing body. If necessary, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage should be contacted.
It is very important that the provenance of an object (where and who it came from, and when it arrived) is thoroughly checked and verified. A lot of research must go into the background of the object to check the validity of a claim. If you are making a claim, be sure to compile as much information and documentation about the object as you can. Talk to other museums and organisations that have gone through similar experiences and get their advice.
The Protected Objects Act
The Protected Objects Act, administered by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, regulates the import and export of protected New Zealand objects to ensure they are not brought in or out of the country illegally. It also specifies what should be done if a taonga Māori (Māori treasure) is newly found, and regulates the sale or trade of taonga tūturu (Māori treasures over 50 years old).
Repatriation at Te Papa
The Karanga Aotearoa Repatriation Programme at Te Papa works closely with iwiiwi tribes and hapū (sub-tribes) to return ancestral remains from institutions around the world to New Zealand.