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  • What's New on Rapa NuiTe Kuhane o te Tupuna – The Spirit of the Ancestors film released
  • Antoinette Padgett

(sources: and

The documentary film Te Kuhane o te Tupuna has been officially released, with a showing on September 24 at Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL) in Santiago. Directed by Leonardo Pakarati of Mahatua Productions, and produced by Paula Rossetti, the production of the film was enhanced by winning the 13th Concurso de Desarrollo de Proyectos para Cine in 2011 and by a grant from the Fondo Audiovisual del Consejo Nacional de la Cultura y las Artes in 2014.

The film chronicles a Rapanui grandmother and child in search of ancestral objects containing mana, or power that was geographically torn from where it belonged when the objects were removed from the island. It also touches on the political and social movement alive on Rapa Nui today. The grandmother Noe tells her granddaughter Mika the story of the moai Hoa Hakananai'a, removed from the island over 100 years ago and never returned, and about other objects taken from the island that possessed the supernatural power of their ancestors, which now has been weakened. Noe believes that as a result, there are problems on the island today that include the Rapanui distrust of each other and the Chilean State. She believes one way to regain the lost mana is to bring back the spirit of Hoa Hakananai'a to the island. She feels that the moai, housed in a museum in London, is lost in the museum environment, where the temperature and lighting are alien and that he is crying to return to the island. Noe wants to see this moai before she dies, but because illness prevents her from traveling, she asks Mika to go with her grandfather Bene, a prestigious sculptor on the island. They do not want to miss the opportunity to visit and pay homage to these objects from their culture, and are convinced that this trip will bring back the sacred and restore the peace and understanding that is lacking today. The two travel to the Quai Branly Museum in Paris and to the British Museum in London, where hundreds of objects from Rapa Nui are housed. There they see Hoa Hakananai'a in the museum environment, removed from his special place at the ceremonial center of 'Orongo.

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The film includes scenes of curators talking about the importance of the objects from Rapa Nui in their collections; the president of the council of elders of Rapa Nui describing how objects on the island were removed without the consent of its people; and the director of the Museo on Rapa Nui handling replicas of pieces and lamenting the removal of the original objects from the [End Page 64] island. The most talented sculptors on the island use images from books as the models for their carvings, while dreaming of seeing those objects in person.

This documentary portrays a journey in search of lost mana, but also records the political and social movement alive on Rapa Nui today, seeking to vindicate its own value, reclaiming land and objects that give meaning to one of the most complex and extraordinary places in the world.

The trailer can be viewed at:

Increased tension between Rapa Nui and Chile


The Indian Law Resource Center in Washington D.C. has filed a request for protection orders with an international human rights body on behalf of the Rapa Nui people as a result of increased tension between Rapanui and Chileans.

Leonardo Crippa, senior attorney in the Washington, D.C. office of the center stated that "four prominent Rapa Nui leaders were unjustly arrested and jailed for trying to exercise their right of self-determination and their right to protect their sacred sites. The repressive measures aimed at disabling the Rapa Nui Parliament must stop." In September, Rapanui rights advocate Santi Hitorangi addressed the 30th session of the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, seeking international support for Rapa Nui's right of...


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pp. 64-66
Launched on MUSE
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