Hanau Momoko - the first settlers of Easter Island

The first settlers of Easter Island are known as Hanau Momoko, though they didn't recieve this name until the second migration, the so called Hanau 'E'epe, arrived. Momoko is an abbreviation of the word moko-moko (repetition of the word moko meaning lizard) which means pointy/slender/tall. This would refer to the tall, slender body proportions of the Hanau Momoko.

Where did Hanau Momoko come from?

Much speaks for that the initial settlers are from the Marquesas Islands.

  1. According to oral tradition, king Hotu Matu'a arrived with his people to Easter Island from a place called Hiva. This very same word can be found in several islands of the Marquesas Islands; Fatu Hiva, Nuku Hiva and Hiva Oa.
  2. Original Rapa Nui culture and language share great similarities to those of Marquesas Islands.
  3. With a distance of 3700 km, Marquesas Islands are among the closest neighbours to Easter Island.

There is a monument called Ahu Akivi that is said to represent the seven explorers looking back towards Hiva, where the first settlers once came from. The viewing angle of this monument and the location of the Marquesas Islands have a difference of 28°, which one might regard as quite precise, considering that no compass was available as well as that hundreds of years between the migration to Rapa Nui and building date of the monument had passed. Though what might be too much of a coincidence is that these rumors were unheard of before 1960 - the same year the monument was restored.