British Museum Sculpture In Easter Island Restitution Bid

The British Museum is again the focus of an international campaign calling for the return of a sacred object. Chilean filmmakers have launched a campaign for the world’s second most popular museum to return a mystical Easter Island sculpture on display for the last 100 years. 

Hoa Haka Nana’ia AKA “hidden or stolen friend” in the regions’ native language was removed by explorers from the remote Chilean island in the Pacific in the 19th century.

The 13th century London moai, as the famous Easter Island Statues are known locally, stands 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) high and weighs around four tonnes. It is believed by locals to be inhabited by a “mana,” or spirit, that protected local tribes.

A new documentary about the statues says that “one way to recover the mana to restore wellbeing to the island is to bring the spirit of the Moai Hoa Kaka Nana’ia back to its native land.” Paula Rossetti said that she and director Leo Pakarati have gathered more than 500 signatures for a petition urging the Chilean government to make a formal demand for the moai’s return.

Hoa Haka Nana’ia is one of the 4,000 objects that campaigners have pinpointed as stolen from Easter Island and displayed in collections around the world.

In 2015 The British Museum  released a document setting out their position on the Elgin Marbles otherwise known as the Parthenon Sculptures. The British Museum  tells the story of cultural achievement throughout the world, from the dawn of human history over two million years ago, until the present day. The Parthenon Sculptures are a significant part of that story.