Over the Memorial Day weekend, the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA) was honored to support and participate in the collective repatriation efforts
to bring home three iwi kūpuna formally held in the possession of the Canterbury Museum in Christchurch, New Zealand. These efforts followed months of successful repatriations in Germany, England, Ireland and Scotland by Hui Iwi Kuamoʻo and the return of 62 iwi kūpuna.
“Caring for our Lāhui means supporting not only our people today and the generations yet to come, but also our ancestors who came long before us,” said Kūhiō Lewis, CNHA Chief Executive Officer. “CNHA is humbled to kōkua Hui Iwi Kuamoʻo in its efforts to finally bring our kūpuna home,”
Since January, CNHA has committed $25,000 in funding to support Hui Iwi Kuamoʻoʻs efforts which include significant travel costs abroad. While traveling during the pandemic has been arduous, it was necessary. There is a short window of time that requires action or they may change their decision to repatriate.
This latest repatriation is the result of years of work by Halealoha Ayau and Hui Iwi Kuamoʻo to research and navigate the respectful return of these ancestors. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs followed with a claim to the Canterbury Museum.
CNHA’s Mehanaokala Hind, along with Makoa Caceres and Kaipo Torco took part in a traditional Powhiri ceremony at Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand in Wellington followed by a formal handover ceremony. The three ancestors, one male age 20-30, one female age 20-30, one female in her 40s, were taken in 1860 from the ʻahupuaʻa of Waikiki on the island of Oʻahu. They were in the Canterbury Museum for 150 years before the historic ceremony on May 29, 2022.
“There is an immense need to bring our kūpuna home as more of our iwi kūpuna are identified in museums and research institutions across the globe. As institutions become enlightened and their humanity opens the once locked doors, the opportunity to reunite iwi kūpuna and their homeland is promising. None of this can be done without the continued vigilance of Native Hawaiian descendants,” said Mehanaokala Hind, senior director of community programs at CNHA.