Frédéric Mitterrand, Minister of Culture and Communication, today handed over, in application of the law allowing their restitution to New Zealand by France, 19 Maori heads preserved in the collections of the museums of France and one in the collections of the University of Montpellier I.
Law no. 2010-501 of 18 May 2010 to authorize the restitution by France of
and related to collections management is the result of an initiative by the
Senator Catherine Morin-Desailly, who sought to resolve legal difficulties
The City of Rouen’s initiative to restore La Nouvelle-
Zealand the Maori head preserved in its Museum of Natural History. The
legislation, tabled on February 8, 2008 was unanimously adopted by the
on the report of Philippe Richert, after the intervention of the
Frédéric Mitterrand, Minister of Culture and Communication, in Parliament.
On the report of MP Colette Le Moal, it was adopted almost
in a solemn vote in the National Assembly on 4 May 2010.
Already in 2002, France had adopted a law to allow the return of the remains
death of the Venus Hottentote in South Africa. In a debate
now more peaceful and balanced, the new legislative intervention is
wisely closing the controversy over the case of the Maori
the city of Rouen.
Taking into account the human dignity dimension of these artifacts,
too long considered as mere objects of curiosity, translates the will
of France to consent to a gesture that meets the strong expectations of the Maori people.
The implementation of the law by the Ministry of Culture and Communication has
started with a work of census and identification of Maori heads in
the collections of the museums of France, which made it possible to list, in addition to that of
Rouen, nineteen Maori heads in three national museums (Musée du Quai
Branly, National Museum of Natural History and National Marine Museum) and
six territorial museums (Nantes, Dunkerque, Lille, Sens, Lyon and
Marseille). The University of Montpellier 1, although not within the scope
by law, agreed to partner, for the Maori head kept in his
Anatomy conservatory, at the global delivery operation coordinated by the
Ministry of Culture and Communication.
The official ceremony of presentation of the Maori heads was held this morning at the Museum
of the Quai Branly in the presence of Frédéric Mitterrand, Her Excellency
Rosemary Banks, Ambassador of New Zealand and a Maori delegation from
Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa of Wellington, institution charged by
the Government of New Zealand to coordinate the repatriation
ancestral human remains of this living people.