French Polynesia wants Paris to return human remains taken in the 19th and 20th century

French Polynesia’s vice-president Eliane Tevahitua wants human remains taken by museums and private collectors in the 19th and 20th centuries to be returned so they can be given proper homage and rituals on their home islands.

She made the request to French culture minister Rachida Dati during a trip to Paris last week.

The most emblematic items are human skulls which were often kept in French homes over 100 years ago, following the trend of “cabinets of curiosity/oddities”.

France has previously agreed to such a request, but to foreign countries, not French overseas entities.

A bill was enacted by Parliament in December 2023.

It is now believed the same procedure is being studied to be extended to French Polynesia and New Caledonia.

“The will to have these human remains returned is part of a worldwide movement and we, in French Polynesia, are part of it too.”

In 2015, nearly a dozen human skulls, believed to have been “collected” in 1884, were returned to French Polynesia by a Swedish private institution.

They were later awarded an elaborate burial ceremony on their home soil in the Marquesas Islands.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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