Recognising the cultural and spiritual significance of three tools that had been donated to the Tweed Regional Museum from the estate of Adrian Smith, a passionate gem and mineral collector, Tweed Council has repatriated the tools back to New Zealand.
A review of the collection found it contained artefacts which were identified as potential heritage objects. Council engaged an archaeologist, who confirmed the authenticity and likely origin of the artefacts. He agreed with the general geographical handwritten notes in the collection about the origin of the artefacts.
The Māori artefacts consisted of three tools made from obsidian glass – a three-sided scraper and two bi-faced scrapers.
Mayor of Tweed, Cr Katie Mine said Council recognised the artefacts as cultural property in line with the archaeologist’s report and felt it was important to repatriate them to the cultural custodians.
Highly significant spiritual place
‘The artefacts are from the Kapowairua (Spirits Bay) area, on the northern tip of New Zealand’s North Island which is a highly significant spiritual place for the Māori people,’ Cr Milne said.
‘We were all very moved by the beautiful blessing ceremony that was held for the handover. The spiritual significance of the artefacts originating from this very important area was highlighted during the ceremony.
‘According to Adrian Smith’s notes, the artefacts were found in March 1951 in this area.
‘They will be returned to the care of the Ngāti Kuri Trust Board, who represent the political, economic, social and cultural interests of the people of Kapowairua, the descendants of Ngāti Kuri.
‘We thank the New Zealand High Commission in Canberra and the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa for their assistance with the return of the artefacts,” she said.
The blessing ceremony was conducted by Archdeacon Errolline Anderson from the Brisbane Anglican Māori Mission on behalf of the Ngāti Kuri Trust Board.
‘It’s such a privilege to send these artefacts back to their rightful owners as they are returning to the gathering of the spirits, their place of origin,’Mrs Anderson said.
The best specimens from the remaining Adrian Smith Collection are on permanent display at Tweed Regional Museum Murwillumbah, including 500 minerals and 300 gemstone specimens.