HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Hui Iwi Kuamo’o and the National Museum Northern Ireland hosted an official handover ceremony for iwi kupuna.
Iwi kupuna or ancestral Hawaiian human remains and five mea makamae pili ali’i or treasures associated with ali’i had been a part of the World Culture Collection at the Ulster Museum in Belfast.
The handover started with a private ceremony followed by a public ceremony at the Ulster Museum. Those who attended the ceremony were Hawaiian representatives, NMNI individuals and delegates from the United States Embassy.
After doing further research into the material, the items were said to have been taken by Gordon Augustus Thomson, who removed the remains from burial caves. Thomson then donated the remains to the Belfast Natural History and Philosophical Society in 1857. The material was donated to the Belfast Museum and Art Gallery in 1910.
The National Museum Northern Ireland believes that it has “legal and ethical responsibilities” to right injustices that were done to the Native Hawaiian cultural values and traditions. Belfast continues to evaluate its World Cultures Collection to understand where some of its 4,500 items came from.
Receiving the items has great significance on a cultural level for the people of Hawaii. The mea makamae pili ali’i are considered sacred with human remains incorporated into them and some of the items were used during ceremonies.
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The remains of kupuna will return to the islands and be reburied on Hawaii Island and Molokai, where they were taken from.
CORRECTION: The headline stated the incorrect location of the remains. The headline has been corrected.