Easter Island is one of the few places in the world with an ancestral culture that is in force and still developing to this day. En 1935, Chile declared it a historical monument, and sixty years later, UNESCO named Rapa Nui National Park a World Heritage. Many cultural celebrations take place during the year, the most outstanding being the Tapati Rapanui festival in mid-summer (south hemisphere), where some of the highlights are events such as Haka pei (where young people descend at great speed from a hill, riding on banana tree trunks), Takona (body painting competition), and a Triathlon, among others. These events allow visitors to experience and absorb the local culture through seductive experiences.
Part of the sensuality of Rapa Nui and Polynesian dances in general are hip movements and the creation of figures using the undulation of hands and legs. Costumes and feathered crowns, flower necklaces, bare feet, and lots of energy are the complements to each performance. Why not have a go?
Shows and performances
Various groups do regular shows each week. Special artistic and cultural events also take place throughout the year. We can provide information about all the events on the Island during your stay so you will not miss anything (including ticket service). Amongst the special annual events, the best known and outstanding is Tapati Rapa Nui, which takes place in February and lasts for two weeks. During that time, each family group must perform a series of tasks to add to the scores of the candidates to be elected annual Queen. Here are some of the competitions and ancestral sports recreated in this celebration:
- Vaka Tuai: each team must recreate a traditional Polynesian boat, where their candidate and a small group sail, dressed in ancient-style costumes.
- Takona: competition in which they use full body painting to show the rank of each person in society.
- Riu: competition where the most experienced in each group perform ritual chants that tell epic stories and legends of the Rapa Nui people.
- Hoko Haka Opo: musical competition where contestants show their choral ability by alternating performances with rival groups, without repeating or making a mistake in the lyrics.
- Haka Pei: competition where daring young people slide down Pu’i hill on banana tree trunks from the 45° slope and through its 120 meters of length. Competitors can reach a speed of up to 80km per hour.
- Titingi Mahute: competition of work done with “Mahute” —a plant introduced by the first Polynesian inhabitants— where after processing of the raw material, they use it to confection traditional costumes.
- Pora: swimming competition on a float made out of “Totora” (fiber plant). It tests the resistance and skills of competitors covering a distance of 1500 meters in traditional costumes and body paint.
- Tau’a Rapa Nui: sports competition held in Rano Raraku. It is a triathlon with three traditional races: Vaka Ama (canoeing in small “totora” boats), swimming on Pora (float made out of “totora”), and Aka Venga (racing with a stick on their shoulders that bears a bunch of bananas on each end).
Cooking fish outdoors in their skin, on hot stones, is just as common as the Umu Ta’o (Rapa Nui stew), especially after fishing. Both are samples of the local gastronomic culture and are easy to make. We can do it together!