The enigmatic giant stone sentinels of Easter Island are the only ones who know the reason why the original inhabitants of Rapa Nui (Easter Island) were obsessed with carving the massive Moai (images of man) and destroying the ecological balance of the island in the process

Each Moai consists of a head and full torso. Some are fortunate to be adorned with a 'pukao' (believed to resemble a topknot). The 15 Moai pictured here stand on the altar (or 'ahu') known as Ahu Tongariki. The moai range in weight from about 8-15 tons and moving/erecting them is one of the many mysteries on the island.

When the island was discovered by Dutch Admiral Jacob Roggeveen in 1722, most of the Moai had been toppled - believed to be a result of a civil war on the island. The Moai at Tongariki were not among them, that is until 1960 when a freak tidal wave washed each of them off the altar.

The Moai at Tongariki had been re-erected shortly before I arrived the first time in 1999. The Japanese government shipped over a crane to perform the task; the gesture was to repay the 'borrowing' of a Moai which had been taken to Japan on a ship many years before. The restoration of these Moai took 5 years

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