Easter Act in Rapa Nui celebrates 50 years

This year Rapa Nui celebrates half a century since the island territory was officially recognized as part of Chile through the Easter Act. Among the many tributes and scheduled activities a time capsule which will keep history and cultural symbols, family letters and messages of President Bachelet and former Presidents Frei and Piñera was buried. The capsule made of steel and wood will be opened in 2066 by future generations.

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The time capsule that will keep history, cultural symbols, family letters will be opened over the next 50 years.

 

Easter Island and the Chilean sovereignty

The island territory was annexed to Chile in 1888; however the Rapa Nui ethnic group had to wait about 80 years for it to be formalized administratively. Almost 8 decades in which the inhabitants of Easter Island had no identity card, court or municipality. During the government of President Eduardo Frei Montalva, on March 1st 1966 Law No. 16,441 was published in the Official State Gazette previously approved by the Congress on February 22nd the same year. This law joined the islanders to the Chilean territorial organization back then creating the department of Easter Island under the province of Valparaiso. This law brought many benefits to the community, as well as some loopholes that today quietly threaten the sense of security that has always characterized this beautiful place

Law 16,441 also known as Easter Act granted voting rights to the islanders finally recognizing full civil rights. At that time Rapa Nui had special needs, requirements and experiences; therefore, in order to adapt the laws applied in Chile to the idiosyncrasy of the island the application of the law had to be different from the rest of the country. An identical criminal model to Chile could not have been imposed in in a community where the vast majority of its members did not speak Spanish in such a short time. This law provides a number of articles including number 13 and number 14 which basically allows that perpetrators of a variety of crimes can reduce the punishment and increase their penitentiary benefits.

Easter Act does not protect the victims

In the offenses referred to in the aforementioned articles committed in the island the lower penalty shall be imposed to. At least those offenses specified by the law which means in serious crimes the sentence is lowered immediately in one degree. For instance: a person who is convicted of a felony anywhere in the country is punished with a sentence of five years and one day. In Easter Island when applying this Act the same felony is punished with a sentence of three years and one day. This punishment is given to those who were born in the island regardless of whether or not they are part of the ethnic group and also in cases where the offense is committed within the island territory.

To conclude together both laws cause the inhabitants accused of committing crimes in Easter Island do not effectively serve the prison service. According to data provided by Chilean Penitentiary System both items are used today and sometimes have been used in more than one crime to avoid justice. These two articles of Law 16,441 hold a system that benefits criminals above the protection it should pay the same law to victims.

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The umu or Rapa Nui curanto – a delicious way to celebrate the patron saint of the sea

On June 27th, Easter Island dressed up to celebrate one of the most important religious celebrations of the Rapanui culture.

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Small cove of Hanga Piko dressed for a party to celebrate Saint Peter’s day.

The celebration of Saints Peter and Paul who are considered the patron saints of the sea and fishermen in Chile, brought together tourists, Chilean residents and the Rapanui community around one of the most representative traditional culinary preparations in Easter Island. In a fraternal and thaksgiving atmosphere around three thousand people attended Hanga Piko small cove to eat and enjoy the curanto also called “Umu” in the local language, without having to pay for food.

 

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Tourists enjoying food and tradition of the Rapa Nui culture.

 

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Flower crowns are always present in all kinds of celebrations in Easter Island.

The umu is a Rapanui dish cooked in something similar to an earth oven. In the past this way of cooking was the only way in which the islanders would cook all their food. This delicious typical island dish which is very similar to the Chilean curanto is prepared in a hole in the the ground. The main difference between the two is that in southern Chile people add seafood as an extra ingredient. On the contrary, in Polynesia people add fruits. The most typical of all manifestations of the Rapanui cuisine is prepared by digging a hole in the ground and cooking food with the heat of hot stones in order to celebrate different events during life. That’s why there are different types of umu either to celebrate a marriage, to honor a deceased person or to a newborn baby, housewarming or to ask for protection and well augurs before a trip. All this is done as a compromise and a way to show respect as the local food is considered a language that allows us to see from an anthropological perspective the history of Rapa Nui.

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The sweet potato is an essential part of the diet of Rapa Nui.
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After several hours of cooking curanto is ready to eat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The previously dug hole is filled with firewood and stones of volcanic origin. Fire is set in order to warm the stones red hot in the same way as it was done for hundreds of years in ancient times. Once the stones are hot they are covered with banana leaves and on these leaves different types of meat such as beef, pork, chicken and fish are put in layers separated by banana leaves and a new layer of hot stones. On the latter the process is repeated, but this time the upper layers are covered by vegetables, mainly root vegetables such as sweet potato, taro and cassava. Finally everything is covered with banana leaves again and soil.

 

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Music was an important part of the celebration of the patron saint of the fishermen.

The cooking process of this dish takes about 6 hours and it is usually accompanied by other traditions such as getting dressed in the old style and singing songs. The curanto is a community meal as the main reason to eat and share this dish is to celebrate a fraternal meeting.

Due to the great resemblance between the curanto from Chiloe and curanto from Rapanui some anthropologists have postulated that the first colonization of southern Chile was done by Polynesian natives who brought the recipe to new territory and adapted it adding new ingredients and seafood they found there.

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The rain didn’t keep most of the island’s inhabitants to participate in this great event.

 

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Easter Island super bees free from world-wide epidemic diseases

Recent studies found that Easter Island bees are free from mites, viruses and bacteria that are present in the rest of the planet. Isolation kept them untouched for over 150 years. As a result they could be considered as a unique species. Bees were brought in Easter Island by priests around 1850 and since then they have been pollinating mangoes, pineapples, bananas, guavas and meadow flowers.

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Being located 3600 km from the Latin American continent, Easter Island is one of the most remote places on Earth.

Bee population declining globally

A study conducted by Centro de Emprendimiento Apícola of Universidad Mayor (CeapiMayor) and Corporación Apícola Chile (Cach), with the support of Fundación para la Innovación Agraria (FIA) found that these bees are the only ones in the world free from bacteria, viruses, mites and fungi. According to experts, it is excellent news for the island and the world. In our planet there are about 20,000 species of bees which are the main pollinators, but its population is declining because of pesticides and disease. It is estimated that 75% of major food crops worldwide depend on natural pollination . ‘The absence of pathogens, allow us to conclude that the sanitary condition of hives in Rapa Nui does not exist anywhere else in the world’ says Patricia Aldea, veterinarian and CeapiMayor director who led the research commissioned by Easter Island’s beekeepers and FIA.

Abundant honey production

They are not only healthy but also produce much more than any bee in country. ‘As the island has no cold season, the hive is active all year round, like flowering plants of Rapa Nui. The queen lays eggs almost eleven months a year, while in the central region of Chile it only does it between late July and early April’ says Aldea. This explains why a hive in the central area produces 20 kilos of honey a year and one in Rapa Nui produces between 90 and 120 kilos.

Bee hive in cave Ana Tepahu, Easter Island.
Natural bee hives can commonly be found on cliffs and by cave entrances at Easter Island.

The health condition of bees in the island would allow beekeepers to create a Biological Reservation and even export queens and healthy genetic material. It is probable that these bees are a new species. At first sight they seem to be the common honeybee (Apis mellifera) but with not further genetic research performed this can not be assured. Patricio Madariaga, president of the Cach also emphasizes the protection of bees in island. ‘90% of the pollination is done in the island by bees, we do not see other pollinators, so it is essential to keep them safe. The bees make their hives in cliffs and we also see them in caves. That should be protected and studied and in order to do that help from the authorities is required’ he says. Honey produced in the island has a flavor and aroma of guava, banana, which is an interesting plus for the market.

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Sunrise at Ahu Tongariki Easter Island with Tapati 2017 logo

Tapati Rapa Nui Festival 2017

Ariki candidate Tapati Rapa Nui 2017
Tiare Faundez Pakarati Ariki candidate Tapati Rapa Nui 2017
Ariki candidate Tapati Rapa Nui 2017
Tahira Nahoe Nhaura Ariki candidate Tapati Rapa Nui 2017

The dates of the next edition of the Tapati Rapa Nui are officially confirmed. The 49th version of the festival will be held from January 27th to February 12th, 2017. The main reason for the celebration is the election of the queen of Tapati. Two candidates for the title supported by their families, friends and visitors are presented. Each group forms an alliance that will face the other through a series of competitions, evoking the ancient rivalries between clans who ruled the island.

The group which gets more points for its representative will have the symbolic right to rule on the island for the rest of the year. Participation in the festival by the island inhabitants is massive. Everyone gets involved with pride and enthusiasm and many spend their time and energy preparing and rehearsing throughout the year. That support for this party spreads to the visitor who is invited to participate by supporting one group, living a unique and unforgettable experience. If you do not want to miss this great party and want to get good prices for your ticket, we recommend that you book a flight to Easter Island well in advance, as demand for these dates is very high and prices soar.

Aito candidate Tapati RApa Nui 2017
Petero Avaka Teao Aito candidate Tapati RApa Nui 2017
Aito candidate Tapati Rapa Nui 2017
Christopher Araki Rapu Aito candidate Tapati Rapa Nui 2017

 

 

 

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