Image: (L-R) Councillor Andrew Gibson; Christine Taylor, curator of Natural Sciences at Hampshire Cultural Trust; Emily Hill, niece of Kenneth Dickson; Kenneth Dickson, elder; Meriki Hill, niece of Kenneth Dickson; Nicole, friend of Meriki Hill; Alan Lovell, chairman of Hampshire Cultural Trust; Janet Owen, chief executive of Hampshire Cultural Trust
On the 2nd November a special ceremony took place to mark the handover of Australian Indigenous human remains, originally from Delicate Nobby, seven miles south of Crescent Head in the region of Kempsey, New South Wales, Australia, to Mr Kenneth Dickson, representing the Dunghutti Community from Kempsey.
It is believed that the remains were removed from Australia during the 1960s and taken to the United Kingdom. A coroner’s report of 1962, showed that the remains, found by workmen earlier in the year at Delicate Nobby, New South Wales, were up to 2,000 years old. The remains were donated to Hampshire County Council Museums Service by a research biologist and local resident.
Christine Taylor, Curator of Natural Sciences for Hampshire Cultural Trust said:
“Repatriation was an easy curatorial decision to make based on the ethos and terms of our Acquisitions Policy. When we seek to undertake such a transfer, the most appropriate recipient should be sought and in this instance it was the Dunghutti people.”
Christine Taylor spent almost a decade undertaking the process of repatriation which included a formal biometric analysis being carried out on the remains in 2009. This confirmed that they were from an Australian Indigenous male aged between 21 and middle age. Following the publication of two reports confirming the origin of the remains, the Dunghutti people, were informed and formal repatriation proceedings began.
Working in partnership with the Australian Government’s Ministry for the Arts, a repatriation ceremony took place in Queen Eleanor’s Garden at the Great Hall, Winchester on Monday the 2nd November at 10am. This was presided over by Mr. Kenneth Dickson who performed a Smoking Ceremony.
Mr. Kenneth Dickson said:
“It has been a very special experience, not just in the journey we make overseas but in the process of spiritually connecting with our ancestors to bring them home.”
Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Culture, Recreation and Countryside, Cllr Andrew Gibson said:
“The County Council is very pleased to be in a position to return these remains to their rightful home. The return of ancestral remains to their community of origin is important, to help promote healing and reconciliation for Aboriginal people. We are glad to work with Hampshire Cultural Trust to ensure these ancestors are enabled to finally rest in peace in their homelands.”
Councillor Andrew Gibson attended the ceremony along with Wendy Dalitz, Assistant Director, Repatriation (UK) of the Australian Government’s Ministry for the Arts, who has played an active role in facilitating the process; Karen Murray, Director of Culture, Communities and Business Services, Hampshire County Council; John Tickle, Assistant Director of Culture and Heritage, Hampshire County Council; Alan Lovell, Chairman of Hampshire Cultural Trust and Janet Owen, its Chief Executive.
To find out more about Hampshire Cultural Trust visit www.hampshireculturaltrust.org.uk and to explore its collections visit http://lovecollecting.org.uk/