Image: Wahaika - Whale bone club

Wahaika - Whale bone club

Made from a whale jaw bone. Used by warriors in warfare. Aotearoa (New Zealand), iwi (tribe) unknown. Acquired by the Australian Museum in 1892.

Stuart Humphreys
© Australian Museum

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Dion Peita - 10.08 AM, 25 August 2010

Tena koe e te rangatira,

I write to you (sorry, but you did not provide a name) to respond to the comments you have raised via our website regarding taonga. The Australian Museum take such comments very seriously, and it is my hope to clarify our position in this discussion.

You raise a compelling point about the behavior of some collecting in the past; many museums hold collections acquired as a result of military conquest and colonization. The collection of nearly one thousand Maori objects is the result of many early cultural exchanges and migration to the NSW region during the 19th and 20th centuries. As Sydney was a major trading port, the inevitability of such material culture coming to institutions such as the Australian Museum is probable.

More recently, the museum follows a policy of sympathetic consideration of requests for the return of cultural collections, which takes into account the religious, historical or cultural significance of the item. The museum is also concerned that the items will be made available to the people and will be looked after so that future generations as well as present one will benefit from the return.

I can confirm that Australian Museum has a reputation globally to work with indigenous peoples, and in some cases, have repatriated material to indigenous groups as part of an Australian national initiative called the ‘return of cultural property program’ started in the 1970’s. Material culture from the Australian museum’s cultural collections has been successfully repatriated to India, Canada, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Aotearoa – NZ to name a few. This is the result of lengthy negotiations with respective groups.

Finally, it is my responsibility to ensure that taonga in our care are made available to our communities and in to the future. And history related to these collection is accurate. Should you wish to discuss any of the points raised above, please contact me directly.  

Ma te atua koe e manaaki, 

masterJedi - 9.08 AM, 19 August 2010
Could i please have my taonga back, your ancestors stole it from me.....if things go wrong for you because you havnt the heart to responed then thats realizing the world we live in............. kia ora.....for further consultation email

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