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Scientists gather in Bali to present new theories on the settlement of Easter Island

Renowned scientists studying migratory processes in the South Pacific islands for years, met in early November in Ubud, a town on the island of Bali, southern Indonesia, at a meeting attended by representatives of the Rapa Nui community, including the provincial director of CONAF Easter Island, Ninoska Cuadros.

The provincial director of CONAF Easter Island, Ninoska Cuadros, was one of the participants in the meeting on early migrations in the South Pacific that was in advance of a Congress that will be held in two years on the island. The latter will be an update with the most recent theories about the origin of the island population.It was the island archaeologist Sonia Haoa who participated in the organization of the meeting "Early Migrations in the Islands of the Pacific", with a view to holding a Congress to be held on Easter Island in November 2018 which will be an update to the investigations that have been carried out in the last years with the purpose of determining how populations had migrated, particularly in Polynesia.

It was this aspect that Ninoska Cuadros emphasized most, noting that this meeting was very useful to rethink the origins of Rapa Nui ethnicity and to understand the cultural connections from the scientific and anthropological perspective that exist in the islands of Polynesia and Indonesia.

"For many years the theory was that the population of Rapa Nui came from the ancient inhabitants of the Marquesas —in French Polynesia— and today a new hypothesis has been proposed that the Rapa Nui people actually come from the ancient inhabitants Of Taiwan."

Also noteworthy was the participation of Matthew Spriggs, professor of archeology at the Australian National University (ANU) "who has long studied the DNA of the Polynesians and on this occasion exposed his conclusions about the genetic similarities that we would have from the teeth and hands."

To these works were added the Tua Pittman exhibition, one of the two Traditional Master Navigators in the Cook Islands of the South Pacific and "who has been navigating canoes for more than thirty years without the use of modern instruments, using a traditional navigation system based on The observation of the stars, the sun, the moon, ocean waves, bird flight patterns and other natural signals," he said.

He also stressed that his participation in the conference has to do with the redefinition of CONAF's functions on the island, following the co-administration of Rapa Nui National Park.

"It allows us to play a role in environmental and cultural education regarding the history of Rapa Nui, not only making a pamphlet to say, how beautiful the stones of the petroglyphs are, but also to collect this research and disseminate them to the local community from a pedagogical perspective".

Finally, he said that in the coming generations "there will be a need, an appetite to know" about these issues, which deserves a definition of all the actors in the island with interference in this matter, such as the municipality, DIBAM, the Council of National Monuments, CONAF and Ma'u Henua, among others, to "define how we are going to face new research from the island, if we are going to have a range of needs from what is already known, but not has spread, or if we are going to allow scientists to come and investigate freely the issues that they find relevant but in some cases disconnect from local needs."