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  • Rapa Nui
  • Forrest Wade Young (bio)

Rapa Nui decolonization politics during the review period have been consistent on the island and in Chilean state and international arenas. Highlights include: the reelection of Leviante Araki as president of Parlamento Rapa Nui in August; community marches for decolonization in September; political engagement against state plans to privatize and develop the Rapa Nui island territory of Fundo Vaitea; and advocacy by Santi Hitorangi for reenlistment on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories (nsgts) during the 13th annual UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in May 2014.

Initially, there were four candidates running for president of Parlamento Rapa Nui: Mario Tuki, Ioni Tuki, Petero Cardinali, and Leviante Araki (the incumbent). However, as Ioni Tuki dropped out to focus on family responsibilities and Mario Tuki canceled his candidacy to concentrate on his work as a member of Easter Island Development Commission (codeipa), Petero Cardinali and Leviante Araki ultimately became the only two candidates. Public dialogues between the two candidates on Radio Manukena Rapa Nui, moderated by Joel Hucke (a leading member of Parlamento Rapa Nui), did not reveal significant differences between Araki and Cardinali on major social and political issues. Candidate answers to questions that Hucke posed about immigration—a problem the past three political reviews have highlighted as a focal concern of the community—stressed the value of continuing to “haito te me‘e” (measure the thing), in [End Page 281] other words, continuing to study the actual extent of the problem. But both candidates also agreed that immigration had to be stopped. Cardinali stated that, ultimately, “He oho tātou, he ture ki te gobierno Tire, he hakapuru te me‘e ‘i runga o te henua nei” (We go fight the Chilean government, and close this thing on this island). Araki similarly stated, “Ka puru te me‘e; te me‘e hanga!” (Close the thing [immigration]; [this is] the thing desired). In response to questions about the increasing problems of waste and pollution on the island from unsustainable tourism, both supported added regulation and continued study of the problem, stressing that current policies administered by Mayor Petero Edmunds were failing the island.

While the candidates clearly agreed on the basics of the substantive issues, there were subtle—yet critical—differences in their political philosophies. In response to questions about what generally the candidates should work toward, Cardinali stated in broad philosophical terms: “Ta‘aku pahono mo te me‘e nei, he ma‘u te henua nei a runga, mai mu‘a ‘ā ki te hora nei. Te anga nei, he hakatitika te hora nei; ka oho mai ‘ā te ‘ara. Tō matou hā‘ū‘ū te anga nei, ma‘u a runga” (My answer to this, is to lead the island, from its past to its present. The job now is to make things straight; to bring forth our awakening. This work is cooperative work to lead). Araki, in contrast, articulated his goals in a more specific formal political register: “Ta‘aku anga mo anga, he ma‘u te Rapa Nui. He inscribe mo te me‘e decolonización. Ka tahi” (My job is to work to lead the Rapa Nui. The number one thing is to inscribe decolonization). Araki, in other words, enunciates his primary goal as not simply leading Rapa Nui or helping its cultural awakening but also leading processes for official political decolonization, starting with inscription on the UN nsgt list.

As leaders met to organize the logistics for the elections, they discussed broader aspects of some of the practices Parlamento Rapa Nui identified as part of “me‘e decolonización” (decolonization things). Meetings emphasizing me‘e decolonización involved such matters as the following: contesting the Chilean government’s desire to expand its control of Rapa Nui by administering its marine resources and reserves in addition to lands, all of which members see as violating Rapa Nui rights to self-determination; writing letters to Bolivian President Evo Morales to inform him of the ongoing colonial condition of Rapa Nui and to request information about the Bolivian International Court of Justice; and continuing correspondence with Oscar Temaru and other Mā‘ohi leaders regarding how French Polynesia was inscribed on the UN...