Sanyo Maru Artefacts to be Returned Home

Following a long campaign for the return of recently discovered artefacts from Japanese pearling mothership, the Sanyo Maru, the Minister for Tourism and Culture Lauren Mosstoday announced that the relics will be returned for permanent display at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT).

Ms Moss said that she was pleased the work undertaken to return the artefacts to the Territory had been a success and that the decision will provide an important boost to the Territory tourism industry and local jobs.

The announcement comes after an important agreement was reached between the Northern Territory Government, the Australian National Maritime Museum (ANMM) and MAGNT for long-term custodianship of the artefacts. 

“We fought to get these artefacts returned as it is a key part of the Territory story,” Ms Moss said.

“I believe the Territory is the appropriate home for the artefacts, recognising the early years of the Territory’s Japanese pearling industry during the 1930s.

“This is a great outcome for all Territorians and the local tourism industry.”

As part of the agreement the ANMM will work with the Territory Labor Government and MAGNT to conserve and share this important history through its digital collection.

ANMM will undertake a digitisation process whereby the collection will be photographed and entered into the ANMM’s publicly accessible collection database.

The ANMM and MAGNT will also work together on a national touring exhibition of the artefacts, anticipated to commence in 2019. Following this, the entire collection will then be transferred to an MAGNT permanent display within the Shipwreck Gallery.

"I acknowledge the work of the Heritage Division at the Department of Tourism and Culture in leading the negotiations to achieve this outcome," Ms Moss said.

The Sanyo Maru sunk off the coast of Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory during a storm in 1937. An archaeological expedition, conducted by the Department of Tourism and Culture in 2016, uncovered 77 artefacts from the wreck including an intricate Japanese dinner set, lacquered goods and wooden chopsticks demonstrating stories and insights into the lives of those on board the vessel.