"Museums sell postcards featuring Mokomokai. That is nothing but offensive"|
HEAD CASE: A moko mokai studied by Major General Horatio Gordon Robley.
Robley sold 39 heads to the American Museum of Natural History in 1864.
Preserved Maori heads traded by major-general
THE first recorded sale of Maori mokomokai was in 1770, says a history written by a chief trader and collector, British Army Major-General Horatio Gordon Robley.
His book, published in 1896, Moko; or Maori Tattooing says Maori head preservers steamed then carefully dried the body parts. Some heads received further tattoos after death.
Robley said even dried Maori heads with few lines of moko were valuable, as were "occasional specimens of dried European heads."
The trade ended "as far as possible" in the 1830s, with most heads obtained in the last 20 years.
He said: "They are works of art; and it's value is subject to all the vicissitudes that affect the value of other works of art.
"They are all very scarce and the number in private hands (as distinct from Museum ownership) is very few."
The Major-General, who dedicated his book: "To those who have served against the warriors of New Zealand",said among heads in Museum collections were six at the Paris Museum d'Histoire Naturelle, including a skin mounted on a plaster cast.
Two more were at the Berlin Konigliches Museum fur Volkekunde, one fitted with glass eyes. This is pictured mounted on a metal pole with a feather earring. Another four were in Plymouth, England.
He also mentions heads in Museums at Christchurch, Auckland, Sydney, Gottingen, Germany and at the Royal College of Surgeons, London.
The Museum of New Zealand said last week it has mokomokai in it's collection but they were not on display. It refused to supply Sunday News with photographs of the heads because of the sensitivity of the subject.
Pomare attacked for his efforts|
THE late Maui Pomare was "possessed" about seing Maori bodyparts on display in overseas museums returned to New Zealand, says his wife Louise Pomare.
He died last year after dedicating more than a decade to repatriating mokomokai from Europe and America.
Louise Pomare says a lot of her late husband's work was "Behind the scenes."
"I don't know how committed he was to it, he was passionate and it was very difficult work because no-one had done it before.
"He was a pioneer.
"Some of the Maoris were freaked out but he had a mission.
"He thought he was given a mission and he wanted to succeed.
"He was a man possessed."
Louise Pomare said the secrecy of her husband's work had been misunderstood by many.
"Some people thought he had human remains here which is just an out-and-out lie.
"It was and still is a very sensitive subject. Due to the sensitivity he kept a lot of it to himself.
"He tried to protect myself and our children from a lot of agony.
"He suffered a lot and felt it very badly."
Pomare said Dalvanius' planned repatriation mission and documentary series would be a fitting tribute to her late husband.