August 11th, 2011
08:29 AM ET

Skeleton mystery in New Zealand school

It could be the plot for the pilot of "CSI: New Zealand."

That half-skeleton they've been using for years as a teaching aid isn't a model, it's the real thing.

Principal Bastienne Kruger at Totara North School was about to use the skeleton during a presentation recently when she realized it wasn't plastic but real human bones, the Northern Advocate in New Zealand reports.

"When we realized it was real we wanted to do right by this poor person, but we didn't know how," the paper quoted Kruger as saying. She called the local hospital, which advised her to hand the remains, including a skull and complete ribs, hands and feet for one half of a body, over to the authorities.

Police called on the expertise of the Historic Places Trust, which bills itself as the guardian of "Aotearoa New Zealand’s national heritage." Aotearoa is the Maori name for New Zealand, and the school reportedly had concerns the skeleton could be of an indigenous Maori.

That was not the case, trust manager Stuart Park told the paper. The jaw lacked Maori characteristics and the way the bones were cleaned suggested professional work, he said, meaning they likely were part of a trade in medical specimen skeletons from India and China that existed in 19th and early 20th centuries.

"It is clearly a half skeleton for medical purposes," Park is quoted as saying.

Kruger told the paper that the school, which opened in 1852, didn't know how long it had the bones.

And for now, the bones will stay out of lesson plans and in the custody of police.

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Filed under: Education • New Zealand
soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. Mack

    I see nothing wrong with using real bones to educate children.

    August 11, 2011 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  2. banasy©

    I don't either, Mack, if they are properly obtained.

    August 11, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  3. raven

    Why was it only half a skeleton ? willies!!!

    August 11, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  4. raven

    If theres anything creepier than a skeleton, its HALF a skeleton.

    August 11, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. banasy©


    I agree, sista!
    How's e.l.t.?

    August 11, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. raven

    e.l.t. is just peachy. And I hope alls well with you!

    August 11, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  7. atlantian

    dang, i thought all the bones ive seen on display were real. guess i shouda touched them

    August 11, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mack

    @ banasy:
    Thank you for agreeing. I almost included the qualification of origin, but I didn't want to weaken the statement.
    I actually knew a woman who taught a kindergarten-age Southern Baptist Sunday School class and wanted to have her skeleton standing in a grade-school classroom. I don't think that happened, but she did donate all of her body for use of parts and research.

    August 11, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  9. john

    It took how long to figure out it wasn't made of plastic!

    August 11, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Sindee

    When I first wrote my response, I was thinking of the infamous duo, Burke and Hare, who killed people to sell their bodies to medical schools.
    I'm hoping this skeleton wasn't obtained that way...

    August 11, 2011 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  11. banasy©


    How weird!
    That's who I thought of, too!
    Great minds think alike...

    August 11, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dude

    @Mack & @Sindee

    Maybe you 2 should get together.

    August 11, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
  13. raven

    @mar: Im responding in this thread because I thought it was insensitive and inappropriate to do so in the other one. I too am Native American. Im also a patriot .the two are not mutually exclusive.

    August 11, 2011 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mack

    Hi, Sindee. I didn't know about Burke and Hare.

    August 11, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
  15. banasy©

    Mar was an ass and a troll of the worst sort.
    Pay him no mind.

    August 11, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
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