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Abstract

This essay is not just about Easter Island's archaeology. Rather the perspective is a multi-field one of a practitioner in historical anthropology of the period before written records (Green in press; Kirch and Green in press). That approach yields an integrated and fairly convincing solution to the language, culture, and biological affinities of the Rapanui who inhabited Easter Island at the time of European contact. As such, the argument advanced has to do with ethnicity - "the product of an empirically available activity, classifying people according to their origins" (Levine 1999:166), and 'origins', as Kawharu (1994: xv) astutely observes for the Maori, "can be said to be about identity. It is also of course about other things like space and time, myth and history, subject and context". Paralleling articles in the volume for the origins of the first New Zealanders (Sutton. 1994), this range of evidence also firmly ties the initial Easter Islanders to Polynesia, and in their particular case to the South Marutea-Mangarevan-Temoe-Pitcairn-Henderson Island region of southeastern Polynesia. Maori origins are more likely to be central East Polynesia.

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