The So-called Mystery of Rapa Nui (Easter Island)
Podcast |
Media Type |
Categories Via RSS |
Natural Sciences
Society & Culture
Publication Date |
Oct 21, 2021
Episode Duration |

Who moved the giant monolithic statues of Rapa Nui, a remote island in the South Pacific? And how did they do it? These questions have been at the center of much speculation and debate since Europeans first arrived there on Easter Sunday, 1722, and called it “Easter Island”. The most popular theory was that this remote civilization destroyed itself -- cutting down all the trees to make contraptions for moving statues.

But according to the indigenous people of Rapa Nui, their ancestors didn’t need to cut down any trees to transport the statues. In fact, their oral history has always been clear about how the moai were transported.

This is a story about storytelling: what happens when your community becomes the subject of a global mystery? A parable of human failure and ecological collapse? What’s the true story? And who gets to tell it? 

Featuring: Sergio Rapu Haoa, Carl Lipo, Terry Hunt, Sergio Mata’u Rapu, and Gina Pakarati


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A profile of Sergio Rapu Haoa for the 2002 Rotary World Peace Scholars program at Berkeley

Eating Up Easter -- a documentary film produced by Sergio Mata’u Rapu, about how the people of Rapa Nui are grappling with environmental and social changes brought on by tourism and economic development.

The NOVA-National Geographic Documentary

Lectures by Terry Hunt and Carl Lipo



Reported and produced by Felix Poon

Edited by Taylor Quimby 

Executive Producer: Rebecca Lavoie

Mixed by Felix Poon

Additional Editing: Justine Paradis, Jessica Hunt, Rebecca Lavoie, and Erika Janik

Special thanks to Effie Kong, and Daniela Allee for her Spanish and Rapanui voiceovers. 

Theme: Breakmaster Cylinder

Additional Music by Blue Dot Sessions

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