Rapa Nui Between 1979 & 1989

Rapa Nui Between 1979 & 1989

Rapa Nui – Between 1979 & 1989

The German couple Gottfried and Karin Weller, residents of Australia, made their first visit to Rapa Nui in 1979.  Forty years have gone by since then and today they are counting sixteen trips to the Island, through which they have recorded the passage of time in their photography. They now are sharing that vision with the community in a photographic expo entitled “Rapa Nui: between 1979 and 1989”.

“Fred”, as he is known by his friends on the Island, related that he read about Easter Island in a book at school.  Then, years later during a trip to the islands of the Pacific, he decided to swing by South America and fulfill his dream of visiting Rapa Nui. “We wanted to learn about the moai, to think on how they could have been moved from Rano Raraku to the coast. We wanted to know their story.  For us, it was an adventure and the best thing that we have ever done in our lives.”

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Tongariki, después del terremoto de 1960
after the 1960 earthquake

Moai Tautiri, Moai antes de su restauración
Moai before its restoration

Los domingos en la iglesia
Sundays at church

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Both of them feel that Rapa Nui has changed a lot in the last 40 years. “The first two times that we came, by 1981, there were very few tourists, cars or shops in which to buy things.  The streets were dirt tracks and there was a lot of dust. We can recall a Tongariki with fallen moai and the ahu destroyed by the tsunami of 1960. We have since seen an impressive improvement in the archaeological work. Protection of the moai and the ahu has improved significantly. The Ma’u Henua Indigenous Community has done a good job. There is still a lot to be done, but they seem to be on the right path and we see them as very committed.”

The big upheaval in tourism came in 1994 with the filming of the movie “Rapa Nui”, which was produced by Kevin Kostner. In Fred’s opinion, one of the major problems facing the Island at this time is the high number of vehicles. Acoustic pollution is also similar to the much larger city of Papeete in Tahiti. “Additionally, there are many tourists who come with no interest in the history or the culture, but only want the beach.  We think that Rapa Nui should be promoted as an historical and cultural destination.”

The Wellers have been married for 51 years and Rapa Nui has been an important part of their shared lives. “For us, it was love at first sight for Rapa Nui. When we left in 1979, we said to ourselves that we had to return. We feel a great connection, for which we have continued to return to see the changes that have been happening over time. We are very grateful to the people of Rapa Nui for their friendship, kindness and support and we wish them the best in the future.  Mauru-uru!”.

Leopoldo Rapu &
Juan Perouse Icka

Correos y Telégrafo
Post and Telegraph

Calle Atamu tekena sin pavimento
Atamu tekena street without pavement

Hanga Piko

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