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Ahu Akivi  - 7 moai
This site is unlike the other sites because it is built inland with a view of the western part of the island. According to oral tradition, the 7 moai (each about 4.5 metres tall) represent the young explorers sent to explore the island before the arrival of the colonisers led by Hotu Matu’a. Just like other ahu, this ceremonial centre is oriented astronomically, and the moai look straight to the sunset during equinoxes. Ahu Akivi is believed to have been constructed during the 15th century and was probably one of the first. It was reconstructed in 1972 by William Mullay.

Ahu Huri A Urenga
This Ahu has just one classic moai that is characterised because it is the only moai that has 4 hands. It is inland and faces the sun as it rises behind Poike at the winter solstice. It was reconstructed in 1972 by William Mullay.
Ahu Vaihu  - ceremonial centre
Also called Ahu Hange Te’e, this ceremonial centre is a good illustration of the huri moai period, when the statues were knocked down. 8 of the moai were knocked down and their pukao have even rolled as far as the seashore. There is a circle of stones called paina in front of the ahu, where certain commemorative rituals were carried out. The adjacent bay has been a major fishing site from ancient times until the present day.

Akuhanga – ceremonial centre and cave
Used as a ceremonial centre, the platform contains several stages of different ahu that were built up on one another using different forms of construction. It reveals the mixture of clans and families that occurred in the old society. At the entrance is the ruins of one of the best preserved ancient villages, with a number of earth-ovens (unu pae), boat-houses (hare vaka), pavements and other features. According to the tradition, the remains of Hotu Matu’a, the founding ancestor of the Rapa Nui people, are placed here.

Ahu Tongariki
– 15 Moai
This impressive megalithic monument with a central ahu (platform) that is nearly 100 metres long once supported 15 moai. In 1960 when an earthquake devastated the south of China, a gigantic tsunami wave struck the eastern side of the island. Some of the moai were deposited more than 100 metres from their original position. For 4 years starting in 1992, a team from the University of Chile, sponsored by a Japanese crane company, rebuilt the monument. The statues vary from 5.6 to 8.7 metres tall and weigh an average 40 tons.

We were told that the French want to borrow a single moai for an exhibition. The Government has agreed but the islanders are against it.

Ahu Te Pito Kura  - navel of the world
This ahu has a small wall that, until the early 19th century, supported the heavy moai Te Paro – the largest ever erected anywhere on the island, measuring 10 metres high and 80 tons. The pukao weighs approx 12 tons, being one of the largest ever carved and moved from the Puna Pau quarry. Tradition says that the erection of this lone moai was ordered by a widow in memory of her husband. Paro was one of the last statues knocked down some time after 1838.

Also on this site is the Te Pito O Te Henua large stone that represents ‘the navel of the world’ for the ancient Rapa Nui.  It is perfectly round and said to have magnetic properties, hence it has become a cult object where tourists sit and lay their hands on the stone to fill themselves with its mana.

Anakena – bay and moai
According to tradition, the legendary king Hotu Matu’a arrived at this small bay of white sand. The present name actually refers to a small cave used by the migratory bird, Kena, which is located above a ravine where water used to reach. There are 2 reconstructed ahu – Ahu Ature Huki by the Kon-Tiki expedition in 1954 and Ahu Naunau by Sergio Rapu in 1980. Ahu Naunau is built upon the remains of several other ahu. The statues at Ahu Naunau are known for the detailed carvings on their backs. Along with traditional loin cloth reliefs are fishhook patterns that are found on none of the other statues. The detail work in the statues is remarkable with precisely chiselled facial features, long ears and thin lips.

Ana Kai Tangata
This cave played a major role in the history of Rapa Nui because of its connection to the ceremony of the Tangata Manu – the bird cult. On the ceiling of the cave are red, white and black coloured cave paintings. Most of them depict the Sooty Tern or Manutara, a migrant seabird that nested every spring in the islets infront of Orongo. This place was also used to build vaku ama, small canoes made of sewn planks that were typical of the times when the island was running short of wood.

This complex comprises two large monumental ahu with a huge 3m wall that is orientated astronomically. (and views over the airport fuel tanks!). Just like the other ceremonial centres, all moai were knocked down around the 18th and 19th

centuries. Captain Cook's logs tell of up to 20 moai erected in this area. There are several buried around the ahu with only their faces visible and the remains of red scordia monuments have also been found on the site including a rare column-like monument whose carvings and meaning have eroded forever.

The main ahu, also called Vinapu I or Tahira, features one of the finest island architectural works made up of stone blocks that weigh several tons, such stonework is not found on any other Polynesian site. These blocks are not only positioned with amazing accuracy but are also artistic in their appearance.

While this type of precise stone fitting is nonexistent in Pacific Island cultures, it is common among South American cultures that occurred before and during Easter Island’s occupation. It is this striking similarity that has lead some, most notably, Thor Heyerdahl, to suggest that it is evidence that South Americans (in particular Peruvians) colonized, or at least were present on Easter Island, and influenced the culture. One other mystery is that Ahu Vinapu is considered to be a fairly early site. Generally you would assume that an earlier site would have less craftsmanship involved than a later site, yet, in this case we see the reverse.

Are these walls the proof of South American influence or just as one archeologist put it: "there are only so many ways to carve a rock."

A feminine statue carved in red scoria, which originally had two heads, is located in front of the other ahu, Vinapu II. It was used as a funerary pillar where a frame was installed for drying dead bodies.