Easter Islanders oppose loaning statue for Paris show

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Source: Radio New Zealand International

The Rapa Nui people on Easter Island have refused a request by European organisations to loan one of their renowned Moai statues for an exhibition in Paris.

MoaiDuring a referendum last month, 89 per cent of the islanders opposed the plan to transport the ancient monolithic human rock figure to put on display at the end of this month.

Chiles National Monuments Council, which had initially backed loaning the Moai, says it will make its final decision this week.

The islands 4,000 inhabitants were informed about the project during public meetings before a referendum was held under the auspices of the International Labour Organizations convention on indigenous people.

The islanders have also been concerned about the large number of tourists and the growing number of immigrants from continental Chile.

Last year, they symbolically closed their island for 48 hours, blocking the airport and urging increased awareness of their migration problem.

Many thanks to Sina Brown-Davis for this panui.

NOTE: We visited a museum in New York about 4 years ago and saw a solitary Moai in the Pacific section, sitting near a Te Arawa whare. Seeing these taonga stuck in a cultural zoo, away from their whanau, made me cry. My guess is that since Moai have now been in a Hollywood movie (“Night at the Museum”), there is added interest by the public and with that, even more reason for their descendants to protect their taonga.

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