Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino

Indigenous Stories > Rapa Nui > Expedition of the Seven Explorers

Seven young men came. The first was called Ira, the second Raparenga, the third Ku’uku’u A’Huatava, the fourth Ringiringi A’Huatava, the fifth Nonoma A’Huatava, the sixth U’Ure A’Huatava and the seventh Mako’i Ringiringi A’Huatava. These seven men came, all ariki (royal) and ariki paka (princes).

They came from Hiva in a sailing vessel. Hau Maka said to them, “When you get there and make landfall, look to the islets called “the young men standing in water, the sons of Te Taanga!”

They came and moored at Hanga Tepau,  leaving their vessel at Hanga Tepau. They climbed up to find the volcano,  but they could not see it. They only saw a small pit, and called it “The Dark Pit of Hau Maka.” But they were mistaken. They had not seen the volcano. When they came back down, they stayed there some time and planted yams. A’Ku’uku’u did the planting. Everyone went to the other side, where they saw the kohe (fern) and said: “Here, indeed, the kohe have been bent by the footsteps of Hau Maka’s spirit.”

They left, and went to Poike. They turned around and came to these parts and saw the sands of Taharoa, but there was little sand there. They passed by here and reached Hanga Hoonu, where they also saw very little sand. Ira said, “There is no suitable landing here for the King. The bay is small and the King cannot disembark here.”

They were hungry, so they all went out to sea and caught fish, then brought them to the beach. There were so many fish on the beach that they named the place “Basket (full of fish) between the legs.”

Ira and Raparenga saw that there was no fire to cook the fish in the pit oven. They sent two of the men to the vessel to find fire. They went there, found the fire sticks, and returned, bringing fire to Hanga Hoonu. They brought out the fish and placed them on a stone. They brought mako’i wood and lit the fire by rubbing the two sticks together. Then they cooked the fish, and all seven men ate together. They had their fill and named that place “the fire of Ira and Raparenga, lit with mako’I,” after the fire they had made there.

The seven men saw a turtle that had crawled up out of the bay. It was not a turtle, however, but a spirit, a sprit that had followed them. The seven laughed, and continued on their way. When the turtle saw them, saw the seven coming this way, she followed them, walking through the sea. Ira and Raparenga reached Ovahe, they all arrived there and saw the sand—there was little sand. And so they came back this way,  toward Anakena, and saw there was much sand. They laughed happily and said, “Here indeed is a nice flat place for King Hotu Matu’a to disembark.” And they all went down to the beach. Meanwhile, the turtle had reached Hiro Moko, not far away on the Bay of Anakena.

Ira was the first to go over and attempt to pick the turtle up, but he could not move her. The second young man went and tried too, but could not move her. Neither could the third, fourth, fifth or sixth move her. Finally, A’Ku’uku’u said, “I just have to move that turtle!” Ira and Raparenga encouraged him, saying “Go ahead, lift her up!” Ku’uku’u went over, lifted up the turtle, placed her on his back and walked up the beach. Now, the turtle had heard Ku’uku’u exclaim that he just had to move her, and as soon as he had picker her up she smacked him with her fins. He was stunned and fell down, breathing heavily. The others came over and began to ridicule the downed Ku’uku’u, who was wounded by the turtle. They took him inside a cave and laid him down.

The turtle returned quickly to Hiva. Ku’uku’u said to his comrades, “Please, friends, don’t abandon me!” and they all said, “We will not abandon you.” But it was a trick. They collected stones and made them into piles—one, two, three, four, five, six piles. The six said to the piles of stones, “When Ku’uku’u asks ‘Where are you, friends?’ answer him in our place, ‘Here we are.’” The stones said, “Ok, alright.”

They left Ku’uku’u alone and went away, along the road, and arrived at Hangaroa. Ku’uku’u, in the cave, called out, “Where are you?” And the pileof stones answered, “Here we are,” and Ku’uku’u was satisfied. He asked again, and they answered again, “Here we are,” and so it went on. Finally, Ku’uku’u passed away.

The six young men—Ira and Raparengo and their four companions—came to Hangaroa and stood in front of the bay, watching the waves crashing over the flat rocks of the coast.  As they watched the waves, Ira and Raparenga took advantage of their loud noise and spoke to each other privately about where they had hidden the valuables: “Ruhi is on the right, Pú on the left, and a string of mother-of-pearl is around the neck of the moai Hinariru,  another on Te Pei. The latter is hardly to be found, even though many look for him. He has remained in Hiva, in our homeland.” Mako’i Ringiringi overheard what the two men had said to each other.

From Hangaroa, they ascended to Orongo, and when they arrived there, they found poporo plants growing all over the yam fields that Ira had planted. He pulled them out, but more grew in their place, and so Ira said, “This land is bad.”

The men built a house. They worked hard to make it comfortable, and even built sleeping quarters. They entered the house and in the evening went to bed. Then Mako’i said to Ringiringi, “Stay awake when I question Ira and Raparenga, and the valuables will be yours; you will remain on the island while we will return to Hiva, our homeland. Be careful not to sleep at night!”

They lay down and night fell. Soon it was midnight, and Mako’i asked Ira and Raparenga, “What were you speaking about, before?” Raparenga answered, “Boy, why do you ask?” And Mako’i said, “Tell me, so I will know!” And so Ira said, “Go and see if that little runt is sleeping.” “Yes, he is sleeping.” He gave him a kick with his foot, and Ringiringi let out a snore loud enough for Ira to hear. But he was only pretending.

So Ira spoke: “Ruhi is on the right, Pú on the left, and a string of mother-of-pearl is around the neck of the moai Hinariru.”

The young man who was pretending to sleep heard them, and he happily told the other young men who were going to remain on the island what he had heard. But five of the men decided to return to Hiva aboard their vessel.