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History of Rapa Nui

Hotu Matua landed at Anakena about 1500 years ago to become the first king of Rapa Nui. His traveling companions and descendants colonized the island, divided into numerous tribes and developed a unique culture, with their own writing. They began erecting colossal stone statues across the island, becoming their mainly activity and characteristic. They did it to honor their ancestors and to seek protection for their offspring through their power or mana.

From the seventeenth century, a succession of internal wars ended the first phase of the Rapa Nui culture, the moai one, and its never solved mysteries, to make way for other rituals such as tournaments for choosing the birdman, tangata manu in the ceremonial village of Orongo.

The competition consisted in capturing the first egg of the manutara bird. Each tribe had a representative, hopo manu, who would venture into the volcano Rano Kau for training in various aspects of the tournament, such as climbing and swimming. With the arrival of the first migratory birds to the islets, in spring time, it was the race started. Competitors celebrated a ritual meal called umu tahu, painted their bodies with kiea (mineral colored dirt) and then descended the Orongo cliff. Then they swam to the largest islet, Motu Nui, about 2 kms away.The hopo manu awaited in the caves that the birds nested on the island, and once the birds laid their eggs, they caught one and undertook the return to Orongo.The hopo manu first delivering the egg to his ariki or king became the tangata manu, religious and political leader of the island for a year.

By that time the first Western expeditions arrived to the island , being officially discovered by the Dutchman Jacob Roggeveen in 1722, and then the last tangata manu election was held.

In 1888 the commander Policarpo Toro, negotiated with the ariki Atamu Tekena the incorporation into Chile, arguing that we are the closest nation to the island.