At the town hall in Rouen, a traditional ceremony took place, where Maori elders performed chants, prayers and other rituals to honour the dead man."France hands back Maori mummified head to New Zealand"
The Maori elders then rubbed noses with Mayor Valerie Fourneyron, a traditional Maori greeting, before signing the restitution agreement.
New Zealand first began requesting the return of the relics in the 1980s, but France's laws on cultural artefacts meant it could not give up the Maori heads in its possession.
In 2007, Rouen's council voted to send theirs back, but were overruled by the Ministry of Culture, which feared it could set a precedent for countries to reclaim their historical artefacts.
New Zealand's Dominion Post newspaper reported that the delegation would be bringing home nine heads in total.
"The French government have provided Te Papa, on behalf of Maori, the ability to bring these ancestors home," Maori leader Michelle Hippolite told the paper.
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