Since 2003 the museum's international repatriation programme for koiwi tangata - skeletal remains - has brought home 186 from medical schools and museums abroad.
Te Papa is meant to be just an interim home as researchers try to find where the remains come from. So far they have sent 26 koiwi to 12 iwi.
Repatriation manager Te Herekiekie Herewini said Te Papa held 500 individual koiwi but for about 125 of them it would be difficult or impossible to establish provenance. Te Papa also holds 101 toi moko, which are preserved heads.There are a couple of options to consider at this stage
Two options include having a putunga kotahi, mausoleum, built in Wellington to house the remains or agreeing to a Ngati Kuri request for burial near Te Rerenga Wairua, Cape Reinga, the place where Maori believe spirits of the dead depart for Hawaiki.I am in favour of Te Rerenga Wairua. My hope is that these deliberations are not closed to those who wish to learn about maori values. It is up to maori to decide but it is important for everyone and everyone could learn an immense amount by this process. I am sure this will be another point of connection between people.