France’s Rouen Museum Returns Mummified Maori Head to New Zealand

artwork: New Zealand's Ambassador to France Rosemary Banks, left, and Maori spiritual leader Michelle Hippolite, right, cover a Maori head with a traditional koroway during a handover ceremony at Rouen city hall, France, Monday May 9, 2011. Chanting tribesmen opened a signing ceremony Monday of the return of the mummified and tattooed head of a New Zealand Maori after it spent 136 years in a Normandy museum. AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere.

ROUEN, FRANCE (AP).- A French museum has returned the mummified and tattooed head of a Maori to New Zealand officials after spending 136 years in a Normandy museum, a belated gesture to restore dignity to the first of 16 such human heads once displayed as exotic curiosities. Representatives of New Zealand’s native Maori people sang traditional songs during an elaborate ceremony at Rouen City Hall to hand over the head to New Zealand diplomats, the first to be returned from of a total of 16 in France. It isn’t known whether the Rouen Museum’s head belonged to a warrior or a slave.