The reality in New Zealand is that many Maori and other Polynesians have distinctive characteristics that would permit identification of their ancestry from their skeletal remains. There is no justification for forensic anthropologists' refusing to attempt the identification of ancestry because of the abuse of human biological variation in the form of cultural racism. While not all Maori can be identified as such from their remains, because of the homogeneity of Maori and the distinctive morphology of many of them New Zealand may provide an opportunity for forensic anthropologists to meet the spiritual needs of the indigenous people without compromising their scientific principles.CURRENT ANTHROPOLOGY Volume 47, Number 5, October 2006
Forensic Identification of "Race" The Issues in New Zealand
Katharine Cox, Nancy G. Tayles, and Hallie R. Buckley
The identification of the "race" of human remains by forensic anthropologists in New Zealand provides Maori with a service that is both helpful and contentious. In estimating "race" anthropologists acknowledge the Maori view that physical remains are important because they retain the spirit of the deceased after death. Doing so is ethically paradoxical because the estimation of "race" implies that races exist, a concept that has been questioned and rejected by most anthropologists. Despite this, to meet the needs of Maori and to treat human remains with the respect that is traditionally accorded them, forensic anthropologists have a responsibility to attempt to estimate "race."