Easter Island officials visit London museum to demand return of stolen statue

Easter Island statue

The Hoa Hakananai'a figure at the British Museum. Image: Trustees of the British Museum

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Officials have visited the British Museum in London today in a bid to get a stolen statue returned to Easter Island.

The Hoa Hakananai'a - which means lost or stolen friend in the Rapa Nui language - was taken from Easter Island in 1868 by Commodore Richard Powell as a gift for Queen Victoria, who donated it to the museum a year later.

A group of officials from Easter Island are in London for two days to discuss the return of the statue, led by Chile's Minister for national property, Felipe Ward.


'We're going to talk'

The 'stolen friend' statue at the British Museum. Image: Trustees of the British Museum

The delegation met with the British Museum's director, Hartwig Fischer at around 9am this morning, who told Sky News: "We're going to talk".

Sculptor Benedicto Tuki, a Rapa Nui native, has offered to make a replica of the seven-foot statue if the original, which dates back to around 1200AD, can be returned to Easter Island.

He told the BBC: "My only wish is for him to return home; for me this is worth far more than any amount of money. As long as I live, I will fight to see our ancestors returned to the island."