Rapa Nui Wrap Up

Orongo Petroglyphs 2

Another fascinating part of Rapa Nui culture is the Tangata Manu ritual. An annual competition was based at the village of Orongo, adjacent to Rano Kau. Hieroglyphics at the site illustrate the patron god Make Make and other mythological creatures.

Rano Kau Cliffside
The Start and Finish Point of the Race

Every September, contestants vied to collect the first sooty tern (manu tara) egg of the season from the islet of Motu Nui, swim back to Rapa Nui and climb the sea cliff of Rano Kau to the clifftop village of Orongo.

Orongo Stone Houses Birdman Cult_
Patrons, Contestants and Others Spent up to a Month in Orongo

The contest was exceedingly dangerous, with many eaten by sharks, drowning, or falling from cliff faces. The winning contestant’s patron became the Tangata Manu and ruled the island until the next year with his tribe gaining access to and control over resources during that time. After approximately 90 years (there are 86 documented Tangata Manus), missionaries abolished the contest in the 1860s.

Diuca Finch Easter Island
Common Diuca Finch on Rano Kau’s edge

We did not see any sooty terns, and there are very few birds on Rapa Nui due to deforestation and, perhaps, its isolation. We did see numerous finches, though, and enjoyed their song.

These posts have barely scratched the proverbial surface of Rapa Nui’s wonders. Recently, there have been numerous articles about the risks the island faces from rising sea levels.


I encourage everyone to watch this interactive presentation (be sure to click through to maximize the experience). The footage is amazing and the facts are as sobering as they are astonishing.

4 thoughts on “Rapa Nui Wrap Up

  1. Maggie,
    Your posts are very informative and inspiring.
    Warm regards,

    Carolyn Rothberg
    Plaza Travel
    16530 Ventura Blvd.
    Suite 106
    Encino, CA 91436
    800 347-4447
    818-789-5405 Fax

    Please consider the environment before printing this email and/or any attachments.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have long wanted to explore this island and have seen a few documentaries about its history. It is saddening to find that the island is one of many in danger of rising sea levels. Thank you for providing the link to the presentation.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve so enjoyed this series of posts, Maggie… And that article was brilliant! I had no idea that the situation was as serious as this though – I hope the islanders are able to find a way to preserve their remarkable heritage.

    Liked by 1 person

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