Rosa Ika Paoa

The daughter of Napoleón Ika and Flora Paoa, Rosa today is 73 years old. With her 17 brothers and sisters, she belongs to the aristocratic Miru tribe.

“My father is the son of a Frenchman who took refuge on the Island after his cargo ship, the “Jean”, was sunk by the German cruiser “Prinz Eitel Friedrich” at the beginning of the First World War.  He was rescued off of Poike by a sheep herder and brought to Hanga Roa.  There he met my grandmother.”

“We initially lived on a small plot where my father planted corn to sell to the Williamson Balfour Company for their piggery.  He also raised pigs and dairy cows and chickens and planted everything.  We had enough to eat; what was lacking was clothing.  The Company had a store but they didn’t bring much variety, just cotton cloth, some with flowers.  We grew up without shoes.  When I got married, I got my first pair of shoes.”

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Rosa Ika a los 20 años at age 20 junto a su marido with her husband Daniel Pakarati

“My wedding was organized by my parents.   One day my husband’s family showed up and asked for my hand.  I knew him from school, but we weren’t friends or anything.  Within my heart I didn’t want to get married.  I asked my mother why they wanted to marry me off.  She had also married at 17 and my father was barely 14.  She said so that I could have a husband and my own home.  Really, people got married very young here because it was important to have children.  There were very few people on the Island.  There was no place to study and there wasn’t any other entertainment, like now.” 

Rosa Ika later was able to study in Santiago in the Institute for Rural Education and then work in some of the mothers’ centers in outlying areas, such as San Felipe, Nogales and Los Molles… “then I was sent back to the Island to organize supply co-operatives, start mothers’ centers and youth clubs and organize craft workshops.  In April of 1967, after the inauguration of the airstrip with 1,300 meters (built by the Longhi firm), we received the first charter flight with a group of American tourists brought by Lindblad Travel.  They stayed in 40 tents that were set up by Hotelera Nacional HONSA.  We received orders for floral necklaces to receive them and shell necklaces to see them off.  We also formed a dance group to entertain the tourists.  And we made rugs, reed curtains and mattresses for the hotel.”

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Su hijo adoptivo her adopted Son Enrique Pakarati junto al Sacerdote with the priest Sebastián Englert 

“I separated from my husband, Diego Pakarati, after 9 years of marriage.  In the Island there is a lot of wife-beating – although I never saw my father hit my mother.  But the men here are tough and as inconstant as the moon.  I think that they don’t know how to love women.  That’s why the women get tough, to defend themselves.  I was very weak and always ran into a corner, so that he would only beat me on my Kauha (buttocks). Now I feel fine.  Nobody gives me orders.  With Diego, we adopted Enrique Pakarati, who was born in 1958, and after the separation I raised him with the help of Father Sebastian Englert. 

At that time people lived in two sectors of town — Moe Roa and Hanga Roa.  The division was drawn from the church down to the fishing port.  For New Year’s Eve, there was a big party in Mataveri.  Groups would sing and others would dance and the Company would give prizes to the best dancers.  We also did Titingi, which means to knock on the door.  The people from one sector would go to visit their families in the other sector, knocking on their door and sharing something to eat.  Every year they would alternate the sector for visiting.  There wasn’t any liquor yet and we had good times talking and singing.  Today you can’t live peacefully with the young people drinking until late at night, playing electronic music at full volume, not letting anyone get any sleep.  They end up drunk, running through town on their loud motorcycles at three or four in the morning and causing accidents.  Civic education is sorely lacking”

Rosa Ika relates an experience that she had with Pepe Varua, ancestral spirits which inhabit different places on this mysterious Island, sometimes showing themselves, even today, in dreams.  “My mother would get up in the dark every morning to go to Mass with my father.  She told me that she would often see someone walking in the dark near the house.  Later I built my own house in the same place.  The first night that I slept there, I dreamt that a man was sleeping on a bed in the living room and I asked him what he was doing in my house.  The Varua responded that he has lived here for much longer than I have, so I should sleep soundly and nothing will happen to me.  Since then I have felt very safe in my house.” 

 

Rosa Ika continues to work with the materials that nature provides, making ancestral costumes, hats, bags and lovely crowns, necklaces and hair pins.  You can find her work at the crafts market at the airport.

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