Tapati Rapa Nui Festival

tapati rapa nui festival

The Tapati Rapa Nui Festival, which literally means “Rapa Nui week”, is the most important cultural festival in Easter Island, and it is celebrated every year during the first two weeks of February. This festival was born in 1968 with the goal of promoting the Rapa Nui culture among the islanders and instilling a sense of belonging within the youth.

During the Tapati celebration, the town is divided in two, each part constituting an “alliance” or clan representing the ancient races of the island. Each clan chooses a queen to represent and “lead” them during the competitions and the winner will have the right to the title of “Queen of the Island” for that year. It’s not a beauty contest, but rather a peaceful confrontation between the two clans that will compete through the days and night; where each participant will be able to express their physical and artistic skills to earn points for each candidate. The queen of the clan with the most points will win the crown.

Most of the competitions are held in Hanga Vere Vere, an open field near Hanga Roa, and they include ancestral sports such as:  

Vaka Tuai: each team must recreate a traditional Polynesian vessel and sail in it.

Tapati Rapa Nui Festival Takona
Takona body painting

Takonaa body painting competition, using the technique of mixing natural pigments. Each team must also explain the meaning behind their paintings.

Riu: competition in which the participants perform ritual songs that tell epic stories and legends of the Rapa Nui people. 

Koro Haka Opoband or musical group competition, which emphasizes the choral ability of the participants that alternately interpret themes without repeating the lyrics or making mistakes.

Tapati Rapa Nui Festival Haka PeiHaka Pei

Haka Peicompetition where daring young men slide on plantain trunks on the 120 meter long slope at a 45 ° angle of the Pu’i hill. Athletes reach speeds up to 80 km/h.

Tapati Rapa Nui Festival Pora Vaka Ama
Vaka Ama

Pora: swimming competition on a reed float or pora. The competitors cover a distance of 1.500 m, dressed in typical costumes and adorned with body paint.

Tapati Rapa Nui Festival triatlon aka venga
Aka Venga – Running with bananas

Tau’a Rapa Nuithe Rapa Nui triathlon. It is held in Rano Raraku and consists of three traditional races: the Vaka Ama (canoeing in small reed boats), swimming with a Pora (reed float) and the Aka Venga (running with two bananas clusters carried on a stick upon their shoulders).

Tapati Rapa Nui Festival Tingi-Tingi-Mahute
Tingi Tingi Mahute

Tingi Tingi Mahute: mahute-works competition (a plant introduced by the first Polynesians) with which, after being processed, typical costumes are made.

Tapati Rapa Nui Festival Parade Desfile
Tapati Parade

The Rapa Nui Tapati Festival ends with a massive parade and the crowning of the Tapati queen.

Tapati Festival Reina
The Tapati´s Queen dancing

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