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BERLIN (Reuters) - UNESCO (news - web sites) has awarded a German firm contract to preserve the world-famous but decaying Moai head sculptures on Easter Island, which are suffering the effects of the weather, tourism and past restoration attempts.

Stefan Maar, founder of Berlin-based Maar Denkmalpflege GmbH said Tuesday his company planned to begin treating the statues with chemicals in early 2005 in a project estimated to cost about 10 million euros ($11.5 million).

"Something has to be done," Maar told Reuters. "But with over 1,000 figures, it is a really big undertaking."

Maar's scientists are developing a chemical treatment for the unique volcanic tuff stone from which the heads are carved.

"The stone is not like anything else," Maar said.

The Moai statues are between 400 and 1000 years old and average 13 ft in height, weighing up to 82 tonnes.

The chemicals should prevent moisture passing through the stone and stabilize it, stopping the growth of large cracks now forming rapidly, said Maar, who gained experience in preserving historic monuments on German projects.

"After the fall of the Berlin Wall, there was money to research preservation techniques for monuments that the German Democratic Republic had not restored," he said.

Also known as Rapa Nui, the 166 sq mile Chilean-governed Easter Island is isolated from other land masses by thousands of miles of South Pacific Ocean.

The ancient Rapanui people, who sailed to the island either from Polynesia or South America, carved the heads and hauled them to the island's beaches. How they moved the massive statues with human power alone is one of archaeology's great mysteries. ($1=.8714 Euro)

TG
http://www.exotic-tiki-gardens.com

M

Here is an article I came upon:

BERLIN (Reuters) - UNESCO (news - web sites) has awarded a
German firm contract to preserve the world-famous but decaying Moai
head sculptures on Easter Island, which are suffering the effects
of the weather, tourism and past restoration attempts.

Sven Kirsten, founder of Hamburg-based KirstenCo. GmbH
said Tuesday his company planned to begin treating the statues with
chemicals in early 2005 in a project estimated to cost about 10
million euros ($11.5 million).

"Somesing hass to be done," Sven told Reuters. "But with over
1,000 figures, it is und really beeg undertaking."

Sven's scientists and drinking buddies are developing a chemical treatment (2 types of Rum, Orgeat and rock candy syrup,orange curacao and fresh lime juice) for the
unique volcanic tuff stone from which the heads are carved.

"The stone iss not like anysing else," Sven said.

The Moai statues are between 400 and 1000 years old and average
13 ft in height, weighing up to 82 tonnes.

The chemicals should prevent moisture passing through the stone
and stabilize it, stopping the growth of large cracks now
forming rapidly, said Sven, who gained experience in preserving
historic monuments when researching his Book Of Tiki. Sven noted , though, that too much of this chemical can make the statues "tipsy""After ze fall uf der Berlin Wall, there vuss money to research
preservation techniques for monuments that ze Tiki
Republic had not restored," he said.

Also known as Rapa Nui, the 166 sq mile Chilean-governed Easter
Island is isolated from other land masses by thousands of miles
of South Pacific Ocean.

The ancient Rapanui people, who sailed to the island either from
Polynesia or South America, carved the heads and hauled them to
the island's beaches. How they moved the massive statues with
human power alone is one of archaeology's great mysteries.
($1=.8714 Euro

We are passing through history.
Tiki is history - possibly the replicas of the first man (Father time?)

I'm glad someone is preserving history.

Now Lanchile Airline just has to reduce the price of the tours - $3,100 for a one week package - so we can go visit Tiki Island.

Brilliant as usual Smiley!

I wonder if Beachbum Berry came up with the mix for the chemicals? Will the recipe be in his next grimoire?

tg
http://www.exotic-tiki-gardens.com

[ Edited by: TikiGardener on 2003-11-04 19:07 ]

Thanks Bruce, for letting the world know. Is that my German accent, or was I under the influence of experimenting with the preservative, I can't remember...

But seriously, I had heard that the Japanese had come up with some kind of thin resin that would seep into the Moai and harden them inside out... but that it was too expensive.

I wonder if they offer jobs over there...It's going to be good for their poor economy for sure.

Finally the Moai keeper in Jeff Berry's movie will get some help!

[ Edited by: filslash 2008-09-06 19:00 ]

Maybe we could form the TikiCorps, kind of a Peace Corps for polynesian fanatics. Going to foriegn lands, and protect or restore tikis.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.
tg

S
SES posted on Wed, Nov 5, 2003 2:01 AM

On 2003-11-04 21:30, bigbrotiki wrote:
But seriously, I had heard that the Japanese had come up with some kind of thin resin that would seep into the Moai and harden them inside out... but that it was too expensive.

Sounds like Viagra for Moai...
:wink:

Very, Very coooool!!!

I'm reading the literature right now!

Thanks for this heads up!

C'mon tc'ers! Save a tiki today!

TG
http://www.exotic-tiki-gardens.com

T

On 2003-11-04 21:30, bigbrotiki wrote:
I wonder if they offer jobs over there...It's going to be good for their poor economy for sure.

The economy on Rapa Nui is poor, by our standards, but when I was there 3 years ago, there was no poverty. The people there aren't living in palaces, but there was no homlessness, rampant disease, or starvation either.

The current situation is that the whole island, outside of the single town that exists there (Hanga Roa) is a National Park of Chile. There is currently a movement to give the lands back to the ancestors of the islanders who were native when Rapa Nui was found by the Dutch in 1722.

This sounds good on paper - give the lands back to the descendants of the original inhabitants - but if these lands become privately owned, it is certain that a large number of landowners will succumb to pressure from American or European or Japanese or Chilean developers and sell off their tracts.

This would mean huge corporate hotels maring the currently pristine Rapa Nui landscape, and infastructure to support these hotels would be built, further destroying the island: electricity poles across the island, paved roads, and digging up the landscape to plant sewage and DSL lines.

In addition, the children of the fishermen and farmers of Rapa Nui would most likely end up dishwashers, maids, and bellboys.

And, all of the Moai, the site of Orongo, and the other fascinating sites of Rapa Nui will likely be roped off to protect them from the influx of insensitive tourists who cannot be trusted to treat these sites with respect.

Remember: to get to Rapa Nui right now requires a real effort, and for the most part, the people who are going to make the effort are aware of the historical, anthropological, archaeological, and even pop cultural signifigance of the artifacts on the island. When Hilton makes it easy to get there in order to keep their resorts filled, Joe USA yuppie is not likely to be as respectful, and will therefore need to be kept away from the monuments.

So: the Rapa Nui people may look longingly at America and want Internet and Cable TV and Coke... but if they get it, everything that makes their island special is at risk of being destroyed.

And the food there is already AMAZING!
(really!)

Now all of that said - this rant developed out of the comment about their poor economy.

The German Moai restoration project - THAT'S a good thing.

Is the risk of development overstated? Easter Island only has a single beach, so the inability to market Easter Island makes it less likely to be marketed as a tropical beach paradise. Furthermore, if chains like Hilton really wanted to be there, they probably already would. (However, being from LA, I fully support slow growth development restrictions and building height limits.)

Also, the natural isolation as the belly button of the world and its subtropical climate will always insolate it from being overrun with tourists.

Tourism easily could benefit the local populous without turning them into crazed consumers because tourism would bring hard currency to the island, which is already the motivating factor for half the town to run to the airport everytime the Lan Chile plane lands to solicit strangers (tourists) to rent rooms in their homes.

Easter Island saw a marked increase of wealth after Kevin Costner's Rapa Nui film brought hard currency spenders to the island.

Tourism would also be beneficial to the economy because it similarly would enable the Rapa Nui to earn hard currency.

In a tourist economy, employment as a waiter, tour guide, hotel clerk or yes, even a waiter is worthwhile. This same issue is at play in many ohter resort areas: Cuba, Bali and even in the US, such as the Hawaiian islands.

Also, on the Big Island, the petroglyphs are maintained. To the contrary, I strongly suspect an increase in wealth would better enable the Rapa Nui to protect their archeological treasures.

Most of all, I want more flights than just Lan Chile's 2-3 week schedule, so visiting there would be easier. After reading your review, I, too, want to visit Kopakavana (??!), a tiki bar in the most tiki of environments. I also don't mind staying at a nice hotel on the beach.

T

Well, as a haole who was passionate about studying tribal art and anthropology long before I was interersted in the kitsch aesthetic we call Tiki, I have struggled with this issue for many years.

My selfish WANTS are for Rapa Nui to be preserved as a big, untouched outdoor museum, and for the people who live there to be happy and content in their little village.

But of course, THEY, the islanders (for the most part - of course there are exceptions) want McDonalds, Nike, Cable TV, and cell phone service.

Who am I to deny them the luxuries I take for granted every day?
(well that said, I have boycotted McDonalds for the past 12 years, and I don't happen to own a pair of athletic shoes, but I digress)

But also, Rapa Nui is such a unique place on earth, nothing is like it and it can never be replaced. I strongly feel that if the island is opened to development outside of Hanga Roa, the islanders may aquire material goods and services, (and you may get your more frequent flights there), but the world will loose one of it's few remaining untouched and fascinating treaures.

If I am not mistaken, 6 of the 7 wonders of the ancient world are gone.
How amazing would it be to see the Hanging Gardens of Babylonia, or the Temple of Artemis or the Colosus of Rhodes? They're all gone, all but the pyramids in Egypt. And they ain't coming back. An old cliche says: You can't go home again. Once it is gone, it is gone.

And look at Stonehenge: you can't get near the place.
It's roped off, you have to look at it from like 100 yards away.
You can walk right up to the Moai, as it is now, and say hello.
This is because, so far, the vast majority of the Rapa Nui tourists have been respectful.
But as soon as luxury hotels go up, a whole other class of people are going to show up, and with increased numbers comes the inevitable increase in disprespectful idiots.

Some of the islanders realize this and are more than willing to enjoy the current level of tourism which brings money to their economy without ruining the careful balance between keeping their miracle pristine and safe while allowing enough tourism to increase their standard of living. Commercial devlopment outside of Hanga Roa will permanently destroy this balance and we will lose Rapa Nui as it exists today, forever.

As I said: the people there do not have cable TV or designer jeans, but they are happy, healthy, and well fed.

Ultimately, the people that live there must decide what they want for themselves, and from 6000 miles away, all I can do is hope, maybe selfishly, that they choose to preserve their unique heritage rather than embracing the crappy American junk culture that our advertising firms make to seem so appealing to all of these precious cultures around the globe.

I do have some agreement with you, TikiBars.

When I went to check the mayan pyramids around Cancun, I was disappointed to find little indigenous eateries or fish taco stands, although there was a mall food court across the street, down from the BMW dealership. Like I said, I live in LA, which is consumer\mall\minimall hell and, while I love my city, I would hate for the rest of the world to resemble it.

Also, I visited Stonehenge when one could walk amongst the monstruous pillars, so I appreciate the loss now that such is no longer available.

According to Islandheritage.com, there is no cause for worry because Easter Island is not being overexploited by tourism. In 1999, there were only 21,434 tourists. 1998: 20,613; 1997:16,141.

However, there are only approximately 250 hotel guestrooms on the island. (This figure does not count for residenciales.)

Consequently, Easter Island is ripe for a few more hotels.

In addition, increased tax revenue from increased tourism should enable Easter Island to raise more cash for more restoration projects, as so many of the moai remained toppled from their ahu.

T

It has begun...

"There are plans to build a very upscale small "ecological" hotel at Vaihu on the south coast. This is a chain from Chile, called "Explorer" hotels. It will have about 25 rooms, all very posh. This will be the first commercial structure to be built outside of the village of Hangaroa."

...this means paved roads, power lines, waste treatment plants, garbage dumps, pollution, and Rapa Nui people being hired as maids for a Chilean chain rather than owning their OWN bed n' breakfast places, like they do now.

I leave for Rapa Nui tomorrow (via a weekend in SF- woo hoo!), but for the rest of you, I suggest planning your visits ASAP. It won't be long now before Starbucks, Wal-Mart, and McDonalds move in.

[ Edited by: filslash 2008-09-12 14:59 ]

P
PEDDRO posted on Wed, Nov 3, 2004 7:17 PM

Who am I to deny them the luxuries I take for granted every day?

Exactly. Nobody has the right to do so.

The world will change for these people. I only hope they can learn from everyone else's mistakes.

Bon Voyage!

To see what I am missing, I located a site with photos of glorious Easter Island:
http://www.fv01.dial.pipex.com/east.shtml

*On 2003-11-04 21:30, bigbrotiki wrote:*But seriously, I had heard that the Japanese had come up with some kind of thin resin that would seep into the Moai and harden them inside out... but that it was too expensive.

actually... no it vas zee Germans, again, who have invented a way to preserve life after death indefinitely...

It's called "Preservation by Plastination."

This site is NOT for the squeemish.
http://www.bodyworlds.com/

F

TikiGardener,

Thanks, as usual, for your post.

I wanted to point out, though numerous sources suggest the process of moving the large Moai a mystery, I've found at least 2 sources stating otherwise. "Splendid Isolation Art of Easter Island" has a lot of great history of Paach Eyland, Easter Island, or Rapa Nui (named by its current inhabitants). I've also seen a T.V. program on the matter (A&E, History, Travel Channel?)

-FB

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