The highlight of the trip was Easter Island or Rapa Nui. It was initially settled by Polynesians between 700 to 1100 CE. The moai statues for which Rapa Nui is famous are similar to other smaller statues in other parts of Polynesia. There were twelve tribes and they apparently competed with each other to see who could make the largest statues, thus their large size. We were surprised to learn that around 1540 CE, as resources diminished, the natives became disenchanted with the moai and knocked them all down. Thus, all those that are currently standing were resurrected by different groups of archeologists. The following map shows the location of the current standing moai except for the quarry – Rano Raraku.

rapa-nui

The most impressive group is the Ahu Tongariki consisting of 15 moai
resurrected by Japanese archeologists.
Easter Island 15 moai 3320

The Ahu Tongariki group.
Easter Island 15 Moari 03385

Another large set is the Ahu Akivi group.
Easter Island Ahu Akivi moai 3498
The Ahu Akivi moai
Easter Island Ahu Akivi moai 3499


The town where most of the inhabitants live, is called Hanga Roa.
Easter Island Hanga Roa 33398

A number of moai are located close to the Hanga Roa. These include Ahu Riata moai.
Easter Island Ahu Riata moai 2879
and the Tahi moai.
Tahi Moai 3509


One of the Tahi moai is unique in that it has eyes made of coral and lapis.
Tahi Moai with eyes 3505
Tahi Moai with eyes 3508

The moai near Anakena have a top knot representing their hair.
Easter Island Anakena Moai with hair 3394

Only one of the moai is thought to be female. She is at Vinapu.

Moai female at Vinapu 3473

The quarry is where the moai were made. There are also many upright moai at the quarry and Sally and I are amongst them.
Sally & David Easter Island 3271

The largest moai on the island is still in the quarry, only half finished.
Moai still in quarry 3301

Several hundred years after the moai were overturned the chiefs of the 12 tribes got together and decided to peacefully choose a leader to be ‘president’ of all the tribes for 1 year. This choice was made by having one strong person in each tribe swim out to Moto Nui, a small island offsore, each September when the Sooty Terns returned to nest. The first to return to the mainland with an intact egg meant the chief of his tribe was the president. This was the era of the “Birdman.”
When Catholic missionaries visited the island they did not quite succeed in eradicating the birdman worship. This is shown in the following statue of the Virgin Mary and Child in the Catholic Church showing a stature of the birdman on her head.
Easter Island Birdman on Madonna & Child 2741