WHAT IS HAKA PEI? ORIGINS OF THE SPORT
Easter Island is filled with mysteries and ancient traditions that we have very little knowledge of. If you’ve traveled to this beautiful place or are planning to do so soon, today’s information will be of great help in better understanding its culture.
What we’ll do today is talk to you about Haka Pei and the sports of Rapa Nui that you should consider to enhance your experience even further. So, if you enjoy extreme sports, frequent travel throughout Chile, and relishing the bravery of individuals sliding down from the mountaintop on a banana trunk, this article is for you.
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Haka Pei on Easter Island: An Ancient Initiation Ritual
As we hinted at the beginning of today’s content, what will bring us together in this post is the Rapa Nui Haka Pei.
Remember that Easter Island is one of the most remote islands in the world, dedicated to preserving its traditions at all costs. You’re likely aware that the famous moai statues, immense sculptures, are its main attraction.
However, you should already know that the moai statues aren’t everything, nor are they what draws hundreds of tourists. Haka Pei is another intriguing attraction you can’t afford to miss if you’re a fan of excitement and adrenaline.
Specifically, participants of the Easter Island Haka Pei slide down banana trunks from the summit of a hill, completely naked except for a loincloth known as “hami.”
Competitors can reach speeds of up to 80 km/h (50 mph), and the time it takes to reach the bottom is less than 10 seconds.
The belief regarding the origin of one of Rapa Nui’s sports is that it was an initiation rite for young individuals to demonstrate maturity and courage. Those who successfully conquered the challenge would become warriors.
Haka Pei Rapa Nui: Preparation and Course
The preparation for achieving good results in this competition begins with the selection of banana trunks. These trunks must be thick enough to support the weight of the competitors.
Subsequently, these trunks are taken to the base of the hill and left there for several days to absorb the energy of the location.
They are then hoisted to the summit using pulleys and shaped with a machete. Finally, on the day of the competition, participants paint their bodies with body paint, resulting in very appealing designs.
Before sliding down the hill, competitors perform a Umu Tahu, a ceremony to honor the ancestors who practiced Haka Pei.
Once the young participants have assumed their positions, the challenge of maintaining balance on the trunk and an element of luck come into play. The distance covered is approximately 300 meters (984 feet), and the race concludes successfully when the trunk comes to a halt in front of the judges.
Participants can slide individually, but occasionally, they do it in pairs.
Rapa Nui Sports: Practical Information about Haka Pei
To further understand and learn about Easter Island’s Haka Pei, it’s essential to grasp some practical details.
Haka Pei takes place on Maunga Pu’i Hill, which is, in fact, an ancient volcano located along the road that connects Hanga Roa with Anakena Beach.
If you’re excited to attend this magnificent event that will transport you to the island’s most ancestral roots, keep in mind that recent editions have taken place in February. However, the dates tend to vary, so it’s best to check the program beforehand.
Be sure to arrive at the location with ample time in advance, as this attractive activity draws a significant number of cars.
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The best part is that you have three vantage points on the island to observe the participants. From the summit, you can witness the ritual. From the hillside, you’ll see them descending at high speeds, and at the base, you’ll experience the excitement of those who reach the finish line successfully.
As you can see, Haka Pei is an event that should be on your list. See you there!