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Articulating Rapa NuiPolynesian Cultural Politics in a Latin American Nation-State$
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Riet Delsing

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780824851682

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824851682.001.0001

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Kaiŋa Rapanui

Kaiŋa Rapanui

(p.178) Chapter 7 Kaiŋa Rapanui
Articulating Rapa Nui

Riet Delsing

University of Hawai'i Press

The Rapanui’s relationship with their territory and the cultural meaning of land, versus its economic and political meaning, is analyzed in this chapter. Kaiŋa is a Polynesian concept that expresses the symbiotic relationship between land and people. Land was handed over from one person to another, but never bought or sold. Rapanui families (hua’ai)—derived from the former mata (clans)—are inseparable from their ancestral lands, and genealogies are thus loosely connected to territories. This concept is still the glue of contemporary Rapanui social life. I then give several examples of how these issues play out in contemporary Rapa Nui. I discuss e.g. how family feuds caused the burning of a house; how a conflict developed between a Rapanui family and SASIPA, the Chilean institution that supplies water to Hanga Roa, about the ownership of a spring; how trees on a lot of land were considered as private property by some and collective property by others. Then I examine two cases of land occupation in the National Park and, finally, recent land occupations in the center of Hanga Roa and the occupation of a private hotel, build on ancestral land.

Keywords:   kaiŋa, Rapa Nui, land, territory, occupation, Polynesia, clan, family, national park, Hanga Roa, hotel

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