Binghamton University honorary degree recipient Sergio Rapu Haoa and his filmmaker son, Sergio Mata’u Rapu, will present “Past, Present and Future of Easter Island,” a lecture and film clips, at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 18, at the Roberson Museum, 30 Front St., Binghamton. This program is free and open to the public.
Rapu and his son will provide an overview of Tiny Easter Island (Rapa Nui), located in a remote area of the Southwestern Pacific, which is known for prehistoric people who constructed nearly 1,000 massive statues, called moai. While researchers have begun to unravel the past mysteries of this island, few people know about the descendants of the moai carvers and the role individuals have played to ensure the future of the island’s archaeological record and its viability as a sustainable community.
The presenters will also offer a glimpse into the transformation of Easter Island, Chile (Rapa Nui) from a remote village island to a major international tourist destination. Sergio Rapu, archaeologist and the first native governor of the island, has spent a lifetime working to expand knowledge of this location as well as its political and economic existence.
Rapu’s filmmaker son has created a documentary, “Eating Up Easter,” which depicts the efforts to make the island sustainable in the face of rapid economic development. Together they will present a brief lecture on their efforts to meet the challenges of this remarkable island, providing an intimate look at the actions the Rapanui people are taking, to face the consequences of their rapidly developing island. Ultimately, the islanders will have to ask themselves difficult questions: Can sustainability and profitability exist together? Can they embrace new technology and guide development without losing who they are as Rapanui?
Elena Kouneski Rapu, writer and associate producer of “Eating Up Easter,” graduated from Binghamton University in 2009 with a master's in anthropology. This program is sponsored by Binghamton University’s Environmental Studies Program, Sustainable Communities Transdisciplinary Area of Excellence and Department of Anthropology.