Success and challenge within a unique native experience

Success and challenge within a unique native experience

Success and challenge within a unique native experience

Ma’u Henua is the native Rapanui community organization that is in charge of the National Park and the heritage of Rapa Nui.  In 2017, the Chilean government, under the presidency of Michelle Bachelet, turned the responsibility for this over to the president-elect of the association, Camilo Rapu-Riroroko.  After 131 years since the annexation of the Island to Chile through the Agreement of Wills, the Rapanui people were finally able to autonomously administer the legacy and heritage of their ancestors.  The administration by the directors of Ma’u Henua, which recently celebrated its two-year anniversary, has had successes, among which are the improvement of National Park facilities in matters of security, infrastructure and sustainability.

The income from the park fees has been invested in peripheral fencing, improvements in the ranger stations, incorporation of sustainable initiatives (solar panels, eco-toilets, biodigestors, rainwater collectors) and guards for twenty-five sites within the entire Park, up from the five sites that were manned under the previous government administration.  During this year, the first stage of the renovation of the tourist reception complex at Rano Rakaku will begin.

Ma’u Henua has given jobs to more than 250 people of the Rapanui ethnic group, who today work in administration, control and maintenance of the Park, archaeological conservation and extension of the Rapanui culture. In addition, the organization has joined with the demands for restitution of Rapanui heritage. In the first half of this year, the moai (statue) currently in the Anthropological Museum of La Serena will be returned to the Island.

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Camilo Rapu Riroroko con / with Felipe Ward
ministro bienes nacionales / national assets minister

Caseta de guardia en / Guard house in
Anakena

Capacitación de los mutoi o guardaparques
Training of the mutoi or park rangers

Torre salvavidas en / Lifeguard tower in
Anakena

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All this represents a great advance in the historical demands of the Rapanui people, which have been promoted over many years by many leaders, both men and women from the Island, and which today are being fulfilled with the joint efforts of institutions and organizations, such as the Commission for Development of Easter Island (CODEIPA) and others.

However, the process has not been without challenges. This involves a new institution, among a people with little experience within a system of direct democracy, added to which are the high expectations of the community. “There has been a steep learning curve”, declares the president of the Community, “and we are working day by day to improve and reach the standards that the Rapanui families expect of us”.

Ma’u Henua is a unique experience in the world – the first time that a native people have achieved self-administration of the heritage received from their ancestors.  In spite of the successes and challenges still ahead, it is an important step in the territorial, political and administrative recovery of the Rapanui community.  The Board of Directors will be elected every four years.

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