In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Rapa Nui
  • Lorenz Gonschor (bio)

The principal event on Rapa Nui during the period under review was the end of the fourteen-year "reign" of Mayor Petero Edmunds, and the election of Luz Zasso as his successor. The reform of the island's political status is still waiting to be completed, while the tourism industry is booming more than ever, leading to serious debates on sustainability.

The organic law bill to transform the island from a province within the Chilean continental region of Valparaíso to a territory with special political status was introduced in Congress on 2 July 2008 (SUBDERE, 2 July 2008; for detailed discussion of the bill see Gonschor 2009) and was set on the agenda for debate on the congress floor in mid-July (SUBDERE, 14 July 2008). In late August, a Chilean government delegation visited the island and met with Governor Carolina Hotu to discuss amendments, including possible measures to control Chilean immigration (GIP, 29 Aug 2008). In November, Governor Hotu traveled to Santiago to discuss the bill directly with the legislators (GIP, 3 Nov 2009). At the end of the review period, however, the bill was still in the first stage of parliamentary procedure and had not yet left the Chamber of Deputies for the Senate (Congress of the Republic of Chile Web site, accessed 5 Aug 2009). The entire process of legislation will probably take at least two years. The preceding constitutional amendment bill, which enables the currently pending legislation, took from 2005 to 2007 to pass.

From 19 to 30 July 2008, a Rapanui delegation consisting of the internationally famed band Matato'a and several dancers participated in the 10th Festival of Pacific Arts in American Sāmoa. As with other such festivals, the event provided an opportunity for Rapanui to meet other Pacific Islanders and thereby to reintegrate into Oceania, from which they had been alienated due to more than a century of Chilean colonialism (GIP, 17 July 2008; RNJ, Oct 2008). However, for the time being, this reintegration [End Page 184] seems to be limited to the cultural field. Unfortunately, even under the upcoming new political status of "special territory," there appears to be no prospect of a political reintegration, such as membership in the Pacific Community and the Pacific Islands Forum, in the near future.

On 9 September, the 120th anniversary of the island's annexation by Chile, Rapa Nui received a high-level visit by Chilean Minister of the Interior Edmundo Pérez Yoma and Sub-secretary for Regional Development Claudia Serrano. The commemoration included a large gathering, featuring a cultural show by local schoolchildren. In an attempt to mitigate what was clearly an act of colonialism, Pérez stated that "more than a territorial annexation of the island to continental Chile," the event commemorated "an encounter between two peoples, one ancestral, the other nascent." The minister furthermore promised that Chile would grant the islanders more self-government and provide them with the technical means for it, citing the administrative reforms and infrastructural investments currently underway (GIP, 9 Sept 2008; SUBDERE, 9 Sept 2008).

On 11 October, Rapa Nui lost another of its most revered koro (elders), when singer and cultural expert Luis Avaka Pate Paoa passed away at age eighty-two. Known as "Papa Kiko," Pate was famous for his knowledge of ancient Rapanui traditions as well as for his talented voice. Throughout his long life, he performed and recorded countless ancient songs and chants as well as more contemporary church-influenced hymns, collaborated with various ethnomusicologists, and often went abroad with his ensemble to share Rapanui music with people of other parts of the Pacific (GIP, 16 Oct 2008; RNJ, May 2009).

By far the most important event on the island, however, was the municipal election in late October, in which the succession of incumbent Mayor Petero Edmunds Paoa was to be determined. Edmunds, who had headed the municipality since 1994, had earlier in 2008 decided not to run for office again, a decision possibly influenced by his decreasing popularity. During the last few years, Edmunds's style of political leadership had become more and more controversial, not the least because some of his statements had...