In 2011 she hosted us at the only museum in Chile where a Moai statue outside of Rapanui is. We are talking about Betty Haoa Rapahango, born in the Easter Island, who devoted her career to spread her native culture. She works at the Fonck Museum in Viña del Mar (Chile) and being a descendant of the only 122 natives survived in the Island, it was an honour to spoke to her.
We adapted a little bit the 2020 questions for her, who is not an archaeologist, but a very interesting person with a passion for mankind history!
A: Why did you choose to help other people to better understand your native culture?
BHR: It wasn’t really on purpose. Just as I was entering the library world, I began to realize that most of those who visited the Rapanui library did not know much about my culture. Then, I realized that, by showing them the evolution, development and decline of the island’s culture, they would better understand the Rapanui people who still exist today.
A: When did you understand that it was the right or the wrong choice?
BHR: It was given little by little, as more and more people visited the library and for several years I did not think about it.
A: Sometimes during hard times we think about giving up…You did not! You are still doing it! Why? I mean, what happened? Do you have a special “mantra” helping your balance, or did you have to struggle with someone convincing this person that going on was the best choice? Who? Your relatives? Yourself?… The final question is “what is your secret to keep on doing your job?”
BHR: In truth, I am a fan of Rapanui culture. Like everyone on the island. No Rapanui denies his culture, no matter how enormous the counterpart. I have never considered, nor will I do in the future, to stop helping those who need to study, understand or live in this Polynesian culture.
A: How do you spend your spare time when you are far from home?
BHR: I really like reading, so I take advantage of free time (and also air travel to Easter Island) to catch up on what’s new in books, magazines and newspapers.
A: Let’s suppose that you were not a “cultural expert”.. what is your job? policeman, farmer, superwoman?
BHR: What job would I have liked to have? Well, anyone who allowed me to travel around the world, what I already get as a researcher of my culture.
Thank you, Betty!