A Downside To Affordable Air Travel

The Moai of Rapa Nui (Easter Island) are world famous. Most of the 887 known giant statues were carved from mostly between circa 1250 CE and 1500 CE and have been the subject of much curiosity and speculation in the outside world.

Recently a visitor from Finland, one Marko Kulju (26), was seen chipping off a piece of the face and earlobe from one of the Moai! A native Rapanui woman witnessed the desecration and police identified Kulju from the woman's description of one of his tattoos. Kulju faces a $19,000 fine and possible prison time.

As outrageous as this act was, it is not the only vandalism which has occurred on Rapa Nui in recent times. The Easter Island Foundation and Pacific Institute
lists several incidents such as scraping paint off of cave paintings, carving a happy face on a Moai, spray painting graffiti on an ahu (platform), and many others. The perpetrators have come from Chile, Japan, Italy, England, Canada, and elsewhere, so being a "jerk" is not confined to any particular country or culture, and cheap air travel makes it possible for any jerk to go to the ends of the earth and leave their mark.

Rapa Nui needs the income it gets from tourism, but I hope that a way is found, and soon, to protect that island's heritage, as well as other significant archaeological and religious sites around the globe.

- The following appeared on the Radio Netherlands News website:

"Easter Island - A tourist from Finland has been fined 10,000 euros for damaging one of the famous moai stone statues on Easter Island in the Pacific. He also had to write a public apology and may not set foot on the island for the next three years.

"The Finnish tourist referred to the incident as 'the biggest mistake in his life'. He was arrested last month for taking a piece of an earlobe off one of the statues. He has now paid his fine and is going home."

[The incident was reportedly and accident, not a deliberate act of vandalism. Some of the moai are fragile - so should be climbed upon or even touched. Duh! Expensive lesson for this guy.]


nzm said...

Jeez - what a tragedy.

Momo the Wonder Dog said...

Let me at him! I'll chew off a piece of his ear. grrrr.

The Moody Minstrel said...

Anyone caught vandalizing a moai should have an identical form of damage inflicted on his or her own head and then have their picture taken and widely publicized to help discourage others from similar forms of jerkishness.

Ojalanpoika said...

Luckily, the Americans are OnLine and alert. So in the Magnificent A-O-L only, 314,000 votes on the judgment in a day, with 3200 comments.

7 years in a South American prison. Ear off from the guy (says the Mayor). After this volume of hypocricy and publicity, even one day could kill a man in a South American prison.

And as I read the actual story behind the News from Congoo to Australia, it seems to me that he's not proven to break it by purpose. But you don't figure that out by reading these genious' news services. One lady shouted that "A tattood guy came, ripped off the ear, stole it and ran!" And our brilliant investigative journalists recycle the hearsay to about 500 million people.

Another viewpoint on the hang-up party:

Pauli Ojala

Pandabonium said...

Pauli Ojala - Point taken on rushing to judgment. The man is accused of a crime, not convicted.

My post, however, only reported the facts, and did not advocate for punishment of any kind.

The website I linked to (The Easter Island Foundation and Pacific Institute) makes that quite clear in their report. A news report should use words like "alleged" and "if convicted". My blog is not a news paper. My purpose is not to advocate any mob mentality or subvert anyone's right to fair hearing. It is rather to bring attention to the on going desecration of the Moai.

You will note that the post only suggests that a way to protect the Moai be found.

The article you link to takes the attitude that "1 Moai out of 400 to 1000", implying it was not important enough to report, an attitude which I find outrageous.

That same article admits that the man accused confessed to breaking the statue.

Don Snabulus said...

Sounds like they need to beef up their crowd control and restrict access to artifacts like they do at museums.

When I was at Trees of Mystery in California, they had the area fenced off so you had to pay the entrance fee to see their displays.

On the other hand, air travel may not be affordable much longer, so this may resolve itself.

The Moody Minstrel said...

Considering that all of the punishments advocated on the post or in this thread (by humans, at least) were of a general nature rather than aimed at any specific, alleged perpetrator, I have to wonder who it is that is rushing to judgment!

Why is "Ojalanpoika" (profile noticeably lacking any kind of info or blog links despite having been registered in October 2007) here, anyway? And why the American-bashing? And if the guy confessed anyway, where is the evil?

Ojalanpoika said...

Hi again,

This hiker confessed that he broke the ear lobe. But the accusation for stealing and cutting it for that end he did not. Nevertheless, most news services use headlines using the phrase theft or vandalization.

I want to apologize for upsetting the host regarding the count 400-1000. My point there was not to belittle anything but to question the action of the hypo-critical mass media again: Those brilliant minds do not bother to investigate anything. I mean, in NONE of the news' did I find a proper estimation, how many of the statues are currently collapsed altogether.

I am a scientist by training and do not like to be indoctrinated by any Ku klux -rhetorics.

Besides, if you think this was provocative, why don't you read this analysis of mine:


khengsiong said...

Perhaps the statues should be fenced.

BTW, not all travelers are irresponsible.

Pandabonium said...

khengsiong: you said "BTW, not all travelers are irresponsible."

I agree. I never said they were.

Pandabonium said...

Ojalanpoika - you are complaining about things that never appeared on this blog. Your comments should be directed to the blogs or news agencies that wrote the headlines you describe. Not to me.

Your articles are interesting, but off-topic. This is not a political forum.

jam said...

Feel shame of those jerks. We got to be a responsible traveler when abroad.

Pandabonium said...

Hey Jam - your comment reminds me that I need to add that link.

Swinebread said...

we gotta save the Moai to prove we were here after we destroy ourselves