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  • What’s New on Rapa Nui
  • Antoinette Padgett

Climate change threatens Rapa Nui


World Heritage and Tourism in a Changing Climate, a new report by UNESCO and UNEP, illustrates how climate change will affect all World Heritage sites globally. Specifically, it examines how it will interact with and amplify the effects of other stresses, including urbanization, pollution, natural resource extraction, and tourism. The section about Rapa Nui describes the stresses due to tourism in the summer months (with an average of 5000 visitors daily) and notes that the primary potential impacts of climate change would be water shortages due to reduced summer rainfall, sea-level rise, and coastal inundation and erosion. The majority of the ahu and moai are located directly on the coast, and significant coastal erosional impacts are already being recorded at several important archaeological sites. As a result of climate change, greater wave heights and increased wave energy making contact with ahu could exacerbate damage to ahu and increase the possibility of moai toppling. Four important sites – Tongariki, Hanga Roa, Tahai, and Anakena - were identified as being most seriously threatened by potential wave damage. Quilliam et al. 2014 (Rapa Nui Journal 28:1) is cited as a primary source of information.

A language plan for Rapa Nui 50 years after incorporation into Chile


At a meeting marking the 50th anniversary of the incorporation of the Rapanui into Chile, Mayor Gabriel Aldoney of Valparaíso (the administrative region in which Rapa Nui is included) announced the approval of measures to translate all public documents generated in the regional government that are related to the island into the Rapanui language, stressing the importance of the preservation of Rapanui culture. The mayor also said he will work with the Ministry of Education on a program that incorporates teaching the Rapanui language in island schools. Kimiora Hey Araki, an islander who studies on the continent, said this initiative highlights the fact that on the island, sadly only a small percentage of the population speak Rapanui.

Rapa Nui seeks greater rugby presence in Chile

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Leading rugby players from Rapa Nui competed in a Rugby Sevens tournament in Chile in April 2016 at the Copa I. Municipalidad de San Carlos. Rugby first gained popularity on Rapa Nui in 2002 and slowly has become an important sport. Rapa Nui’s rugby team is called Matamu‘a RC, and local schools now include rugby in their curriculum. Featured players may apply for grants or exchanges with Chilean educational establishments on the mainland. Carlos Morande, a journalist and former national rugby coach, has plans for a future Rapa Nui league and hopes to have organized tours to mainland Chile and to Polynesia in the future. Morandé notes that the islanders are skilled at rugby and only lack the opportunity for competition against more traditional teams. In June the Rapa Nui team will play in an international Rugby Sevens competition in Tahiti and will return to mainland Chile to play in September.

Islanders trained in conservation and sustainable use of marine resources


A training course on Fisheries Management and Conservation of Easter Island Marine Resources was held as part of a work program with members of the Mesa del Mar “Te Mau o te Vaikava o Rapa Nui", the Development Committee of Easter Island (Codeipa), the Undersecretary of Fisheries and Aquaculture (Subpesca), the National Fisheries Service (Sernapesca), and the Chilean Navy. There were 3 days of activities for the artisanal fisheries sector, tourism organizations, and the community at large. Issues discussed included conservation of aquatic resources and marine ecosystems, monitoring and control of fishing activities, and funding areas of research and production development. The Director of Fisheries and Aquaculture of Regions V, VI and VII, Manuel Ibarra, explained that the aim of the meeting was to present the principal lines of work in sustainability and resource conservation today developed by public agencies. He noted the recent project of the Research Fund for Fisheries and Aquaculture (IFAP) on biological fishing [End Page 60] studies and evaluation of the importance of coastal fisheries to Easter Island...


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