Friday October 28, 2016   Last updated 11:36AM

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Koiwi returned from United States to Kāwhia

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Two skulls found near Kāwhia are home after 60 years.

Te Papa acting head Michelle Hippolite arrived back in the country this morning with the koiwi tangata and took them straight to Waipapa Marae in Kāwhia to return to Ngāti Hikairo.

They were found in a cave by Oparau farmer Keith McKenzie in 1952 during road works, and given to anthropologist Felix Keesing.

Ms Hippolite says they ended up at Stanford University near San Francisco.

"A lot of the koiwi tangata were taken for scholarly purposes, to look at size of skull and draw some conclusions, but with time moving on and certainly the director of the Archaeology Centre had determined that and there is no reason to keep these koiwi tangata in the collection any more they were very proactive in making contact with us," she says.

A Hawkes Bay skull taken to Oklahoma by an American scholar and a toi moko preserved head from Montreal were also collected, they will be welcomed to Te Papa with a special ceremony on Thursday.

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