Easter Islanders demanding the return of pillaged relics

Easter Islanders demanding the return of pillaged relics

Easter Islanders are the latest indigenous group to demand the return cultural relics pillaged by Western countries from their homeland.

The British Museum’s Easter Island Moai

The British Museum’s Easter Island Moai

A delegation from Rapa Nui, as the island is now known, are asking the British Museum to return a giant statue known as Moai taken by the crew of a British naval vessel, HMS Topaze, in 1868.

The Moai is known as Hoa Hakananai’a and the islanders say it’s the living embodiment of their ancestors “whose role is to protect us”.

It was presented to Queen Victoria who gifted it to the British Museum, where it’s been for almost 150 years.

The museum has been the target of numerous claims for return of cultural relics including the Elgin Marbles to Greece and tribal artefacts taken from Australian Aborigines.

Moai from Easter Island are also held by museums in the United States, France and New Zealand.

Want to learn more? Watch our episode Globe Guides: Mysterious Places and follow our presenters as they uncover the strangest mysteries on the planet, from the relics of Easter Island to England’s Stonehenge.