Human remains believed to be of Maori origin have been identified in the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery's collection.
QVMAG is now seeking to repatriate the material, donated to it in 1909, to the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, the country's national museum, located in Wellington.
City of Launceston acting chief executive Shane Eberhardt said QVMAG looked forward to seeing the tupuna - a Maori word meaning 'ancestors' - returned home.
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"This material is being cared for and stored in a manner consistent with cultural safety and international best practice as we work to finalise plans for the repatriation of the tupuna," he said.
"Like most long-serving museums, the City of Launceston's Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery has human remains among its collections.
"The relatively small number of human remains in our collection are unprovenanced.
"The material deserves to be treated with respect and dignity."
Te Papa head of repatriation Te Herekiekie Herewini, who has been referred to as the Indiana Jones of repatriation, said QVMAG had contacted the museum to alert it to the Maori material in its collection.
"We are presently making arrangements with QVMAG to repatriate these ancestors to Te Papa, who will house them until they are returned to their iwi (tribe) and region of origin," he said.
"It is important to indicate these ancestors were taken from their resting places without the approval of their whanau (family) or iwi, and traded overseas to museums and medical institutions.
"The process of repatriation allows for these ancestors to return to their communities of origin, where they will once again physically and spiritually rest in their homeland, and [be] comforted by their uri (descendants)."
In the 1990s, human remains of Tasmanian Aboriginal origin were repatriated in consultation with the Aboriginal community.
It is important to indicate these ancestors were taken from their resting places without the approval of their whanau (family) or iwi, and traded overseas to museums and medical institutions.Te Herekiekie Herewini, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa head of repatriation
Mr Eberhardt said there was no evidence to suggest further such remains were in QVMAG's collection.
Australian Museums and Galleries Association national director Alex Marsden said repatriation was increasingly becoming core museum work.
She said repatriation helped to "mend fences, build bridges and stronger relationships" with various communities, whether they be local or otherwise.
"It's part of a healing process for communities," she said.
"Around Australia, human remains are not obviously collected now, and even most of them have been returned, or [kept] in a very safe storage area where we're trying to find out who the community is that those remains belong to."
The federal government engages with overseas governments, institutions and private holders to seek the return of Aboriginal Australians' ancestral remains to the country.
As at November 28, 2019, 1618 Aboriginal ancestors had been repatriated from overseas.