Extensive archaeological investigations on Rapa Nui were initiated by the Norwegian Expedition to the island in 1955 -1956. An evaluation of the evidence for early settlement and discussion of the origin of the initial population are presented. The earliest settlement activity on the island was subsequently found at Anakena cove during the Kon-Tiki Museum expedition in 1987. A reanalysis of the material remains and a new osteological analysis of the fish remains from the early Anakena site are presented. This, together with analyses of cultural remains from other settlement sites on Rapa Nui and on other islands in Polynesia, forms the base for an intra- and interisland comparative analysis and discussion of the origin of the initial settlement on Rapa Nui.