Tau´a, Haka Pei and Carnaval
We can only repeat how lucky and privileged we feel to be able to watch this unique festival! We try to see as many of the events as we can and each time we are thrilled anew. None was of the typical “hula hula” type so common for other Polynesian islands, but truly authentic. Oh, in case we have not mentioned it, every single performance of the festival is free of charge…
“Tau’a” and “Haka Pei” are the two most spectacular competitions in the Tapati Rapa Nui Festival in terms of endurance and courage.
Tau’a is a kind of triathlon that is held inside the crater of volcano Ranu Raraku. Fifteen young men, five from each of the three competing teams, first cross the lagoon inside that crater in small canoes made of reed. Once they struggle to the shore, they put a bundle of bananas around their neck weighing 21 kilograms. With that, they jog a complete loop around the lagoon. Once they drop their heavy load, they have to do another half loop to get to small floats made of reeds. On these, they have to swim across the lake again.
The event took place starting at 12:00 am, the hottest time of the day. There was quite a crowd, families and team members of the participants cheering in support, as well as good number of tourists. All were hiding under umbrellas, canopies or hats trying to hide from the scorching sun. The participants’ bodies are only covered by small loincloth and paint!
Haka Pei is the other activity that requires a lot of courage, since for this contest the young men have to slide down the steep slopes of volcano Maunga Pui on log cut from a banana tree about two meter longs. They simply sit on these long logs while sliding down unable to maneuver them whatsoever. The Haka Pei we watched was very special because it was recorded by Japanese TV and featured a Japanese participant. He is a very popular comedian in Japan with his own TV show. He was the center of all attention. Once he “landed” at the bottom the hill, he showed his bruised arms and gave interviews to the Japanese TV.
The carnival is the last but nevertheless an important competition, since each team can made extra points by convincing as many locals and tourists alike to join their parade through the village. Unfortunately, we leave the day before this event. We were told lot of crazy incidents and costumes about this event: for instance last year, a Rapa Nui guy paraded wearing nothing but a chicken slung on his shoulders!