Five Motunui Panels at last returned to NZ tribe

Posted on: September 8, 2015 by

Following up on a post from last year, the five Motunui panels that had been illegally exported from New Zealand back in the 1970s have finally made the journey back to the tribal lands from which they came. The panels have been with the people of the Te Atiawa since March 2015, having been earlier kept at the Te Papa Museum in Wellington, and are now housed at the local Puke Ariki Museum.

This has been a long journey: the panels had been discovered in a swamp in 1972, taken out of New Zealand and bought by collector George Ortiz in 1973, then made the subject to legal proceedings in England on the part of the New Zealand government seeking their return. The case, which made it all the way to the House of Lords, resulted in the works staying with Ortiz. It was his surviving wife who agreed only last year to return them to New Zealand.