Easter Islanders demand the return of a Moai statue from the British Museum August 8, 2018 – Posted in: News

According to this article at the Guardian, the Rapa Nui people of Easter Island, have requested the Chilean government to assist with requesting the return of a sacred Moai statue from the British Museum.

The unique basalt statue, called Hoa Hakananai’a, which means ‘the stolen or hidden friend,’ is regarded as sacred. The statue was removed from the island in 1868 by a Royal Navy captain, Richard Powell, and presented to Queen Victoria. She gave it to the national museum in London in 1869, and it has remained there ever since

The Guardian article quotes East Island leaders:

Recovering stolen statues would also be “an important symbol in closing the sad chapter of violation of our rights by European navigators that visited the island in the 19th century

A similar Moai statue in the Quai Branly Museum in Paris may also be in their sights.

Repatriation is a hot topic for museums, and will only get more prominent in the years to come. Emmanuel Macron has already pledged to repatriate objects back to Africa, and many of the more progressive European museums are in active discussion about this very emotive topic.