The arrival of the first Polynesians to Rapa Nui
by Cristian Moreno Pakarati – Historiador / Historian
Among the folklore, the sources are the most ancient legends that were collected in the period of the French missionary priests, with additional notes made by foreign researchers from the 1870s up to the present day. These tales relate that the first organized migration from Polynesia was led by an ariki (chief) named Hotu Matu’a, and came from a place called Marae Renga, located within a now disappeared land called Hiva, which today is suspected to be the Marquesas Islands or Mangareva. To complicate the story, before the arrival of the chief, he is supposed to have sent an expedition of 6 or 7 explorers who, when they arrived to the Island, found two men: Nga Tavake a Te Rona and Te Ohiro a Te Runu. A possible previous migration? If we add to that the well known legendary arrival of the Hanau E’epe people in later time, the number of migrations could have been significantly larger.
The most detailed versions of the legends of the early Polynesian voyages to the Island were compiled by the Easter Islanders at the beginning of the 20th Century in a series of manuscripts, which were later presented to the Norwegian Archaeological Expedition in 1955-1956. Today the legends have been renovated and reinvented, especially to accommodate the arrival of massive tourism to Rapa Nui, with some of the ancient legends now almost unrecognizable. Many locals have begun to interpret in a “mythical” and personal form some of the archaeological remains in an attempt to find a connection to the ancient legends. An example is the recent association of the moai of Ahu Akivi with the famous Seven Explorers, a tale that many tour guides pass on to the tourists, in an attempt to combine the “mythical thought” with logical reality, but blurring the lines between the two. This need has arisen as a result of Western European influence in the manner of thinking of the present-day Rapanui, which is more and more oriented toward “logical thought”. However, they still retain an enormous pride in the traditions of their land, making it impossible to reject their belief in their myths and legends.
In the sand of Rapa Nui there are animals so small that they can hardly be seen with the bare eye. You need a microscope to see them. These animals live in the small spaces between sand grains.
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