While we waited outside their meeting at the British Museum Maria told us of a dream she had last Monday before news had arrived that her people were coming. Shining bright and beautiful were Nunua fish but unlike in their ocean home of Rapanui they were in a river, a waterway unfamiliar to the island.
150 years ago, under the command of English navigator Commodore Richard Powell, the crew of HMS Topaze removed Hoa Hakananai’a from a clifftop along with a second, smaller statue known as Hava.
Powell then gave them to Queen Victoria when the ship returned to England the following year, and the monarch donated them to the British Museum.
Having spent 150 years away from its home, the statue – known as Hoa Hakananai’a –has become the focal point of a movement to return the moai which has steadily gathered momentum, when the island’s mayor, Pedro Edmunds, wrote to the museum requesting the statue’s return.
November 2018 brought tangata from all over our Moana, based in the UK together. This was the first instance of Aroaha in Action a collective formed to support the people of Rapanui and other Moana movements. We stood alongside Ma'u Henua (a delegation from Rapanui) who had travelled to call upon the British Museum to return their stolen Moai ancestors. #QueVuelvaElMoai #MaytheMoaiReturn.
Repatriation now British Museum your time and tired arguments are limited. Give them back the ancestors you stole.
If you want to support follow Ma’u Henua, sign the online petition https://bit.ly/2qV66pg, share information via the hashtag and stay tuned as our work isn’t over.
Words: Ahilapalapa Rands