Easter Island Wrapup and Contents

It’s now been over two months since I returned from Patagonia, Antarctica, the Falklands, Iguazu Falls and Easter Island.  Most of that time I have been writing up Easter Island, which I have now finished.  Having got home I have been processing all images and therefore posting more of them.

Easter Island especially demands explanations to go with the images and I have given quite detailed accounts of many aspects of the history and archaeology of Easter Island.  There have been 24 posts, 150 images and lots of words.

It started out just about photography.  It’s become somewhat more than that, though the images remain central.


One thing I discovered, not in other accounts, was that Easter Island had a two-stage crisis.  First was an ecological crisis that lead to starvation and warfare.  Second and only after European contact, the overthrow of the old religion and the downing of the moai.

I finished up by considering whether the history of Easter Island offers a parable for our times.  I hope many people read this because I believe we all need to understand these issues to help build a consensus for positive change.

Ahu Hanga Kio’e

Below is a list of my special topics.  These are folded into the posts which have quite different names, specific to locations, that may not reflect the content of the special topics.  Further below I also present a list of the titles of the posts and then the sources of my research.

Special Topics

Ahu Te Peu


Note that posts are not necessarily chonological because they are also combined by content.

Easter Island map – click for larger size (so you can read the place names)

You need to click on the map to get it twice as large so you can read the place names.  The maps covers 16 of the 25 place names in the titles of posts.  Of those not covered:

  • Puna Pau is shown as Maunga Vai Ohao,
  • the South Coast is the whole south-east coast,
  • Ahu Vai Teka is just to the West of Ahu Akivi,
  • Ana Kakenga is just near Motu Tautara (which you can see from the cave),
  • Ahu Hange Kio’e is near Punta Cook,
  • Hanga Taharoa is the bay near Mahatua,
  • Hanga Piko is just below the big point at Hanga Roa,
  • Ana Te Pahu is about halfway between Ahu  Akivi and Ahu Te Peu on the South side of the road
  • and Ahu Runga Vae’e is just below Ahu Hanga Te Tenga.

Ahu Tongariki


My discourse on Easter Island reflects what I’ve read, my observations and my analysis. I don’t claim to be a scientist or an archaeologist.  Apart from being a photographer, I am an economic historian (in terms of academic qualifications) who found a career as a systems developer (and I’m now retired).  Here is a list of the books and articles I used:

Easter Island

– Books

– On the Web

Ahu Hanga Poukura


– Books

  • Tim Flannery:  Here on Earth(An Argument for Hope) 2010
    • Confusingly, there seem to be several books with very similar titles.  I suspect that this is publishers’ demand for different markets.  Since this is the Australian version, it is probably the book Flannery intended to write.
  • Tim Flannery:  The Weather Makers (2005)
  • Tim Flannery:  The Future Eaters (1994)
  • Tim Flannery:  The Eternal Frontier (2001)

– On the Web

Ranu Raraku

21st April: Easter Island (Anakena)

On the afternoon of the 21st, we headed for Anakena, on the far side of the island, for sunset.  Anakena is a white sand beach, the only one on the island and is popular for swimming in the summer.


This is Ahu Nau Nau through the coconut palms at Anakena.  The coconut palms are not original Easter Island trees.  Though attempts were made to introduce coconut palms as early as 1877, these trees were mainly or entirely introduced from Tahiti in 1960.


Ahu Nau Nau, the ahu at Anakena with seven moai, was restored in 1978 and it was here that they found the lone surviving moai eye.  Replica eyes were then added to four of the moai, but later removed after protests from archaeologists.  After subsequent protests from the public, replica eyes were restored but only to the moai at Ahu Ko Te Riku in the Tahai Complex.

These moai clearly have much finer features than those at the Tahai Complex and many other ahu, probably because when they were felled it was onto sand.


Just behind Ahu Nau Nau (poking out from behind a coconut palm in the first image) is Ahu Ature Huki  (seen here complete with a bird sitting on the moai). This was the first moai re-erected in the “modern era”, by Thor Heyerdahl in 1956. It is 6 metres high, 3 metres wide, weighs 25 tonnes and took 12 people 18 days to re-erect it from its fallen position 12 feet away.


Ahu Ature Huki again, a little later.

Google Maps location.



According to legend, Anakena Beach is where Hotu Matu’a first landed on the island.  It is not known with any precision when that was, perhaps 700AD, probably between 300AD and 800AD.  The main period for construction of ahu and moai was about 1100AD to 1500AD. Then from 1500 to 1722, when the first European arrived, it all unravelled.  Wood became very scarce, civil war became intense especially around 1650 and food production was also disrupted.  By 1722, it seemed to have settled down to a stable society, now with the birdman cult and worshipping Make Make rather than the ancestors.

European visitors including whalers then brought chaos with the introduction of syphilis and other incursions.  In 1862 1,400 people, a third of the population, were kidnapped by Peruvian slavers.  After some time the Peruvian Government decided to repatriate the remaining 470 but only 15 made it back alive … and they brought smallpox with them, so that the current Rapanui population are the descendants of only 110 people.

Easter Island became a Chilean colony in 1888 and things got so bad the Rapanui revolted in 1914.  There were over 70,000 sheep on the island then while the Rapanui were confined to the village of Hanga Roa.  Yet they survive.  A few years ago, the Rapanui population (ie the Polynesians) regained the levels of 1860.  The current population of Easter Island is around 5,000, of whom about 60% are Rapanui.