Moai outside of Easter Island

For giant stone monolithic human figures carved on one of the most remote places in the world, Easter Island’s Moai (or at least replicas) can be found in some rather unusual places. Here are a few I’ve come across on my travels…

American Museum of Natural History, New York
A sizable plaster cast dating from an expedition in 1934-35, whose popularity increased after being featured in the Night at the Museum film.

Kon-Tiki Museum, Oslo
Norwegian character Thor Heyerdahl believed (since conclusively disproven) that the Pacific was settled from South America. To attempt to prove it he built and sailed the raft Kon-Tiki from Peru for 6,900km across the Pacific. The excellent Kon-Tiki Museum in Oslo documents his adventures and includes a number of replica Maoi, including this one outside.

Santiago, Chile
More appropriate than most given that Easter Island is part of Chile. The first was outside of a hotel opposite my hostel in Santiago, and the other in-front of Iglesia y museo de San Francisco, on the busy Av Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins.

Dorrie Leslie Park, Lyall Bay, Wellington
Probably the best situated fake Maoi on this list, looking out across the south coast, somehow surviving the Wellington weather. The 3.2 tonne Hinueara stone moai was a gift from Chile to represent the friendship between Chile and New Zealand. In Santiago I saw a similar reciprocal gift of Maori sculpture at the Centre Gabriela Mistral.

The sighting that triggered this post. While wandering toward the Christchurch Art Gallery this caught my eye. Pretty substantial and somewhat out of place at the back of the University of Canterbury car park.

Tattoo store, Cairns
The obvious place for replica Maoi…

Ghalat, Iran
These three were stylised yet still recognisably Moai, and completely unexpected in a small town in Iran.

I’m sure the British Museum in London has few original Maoi I would have seen but haven’t photographed.

Anyone else seen Maoi in unusual places outside of Easter Island?

Author: jontycrane

5 thoughts on “Moai outside of Easter Island

  1. Hey do you know where about the Christchurch moai statue is? I believe there are multiple University of Canterbury car parks

    1. I think it was at the Arts Centre on Hereford Street, though I did see it a decade ago pre-earthquake…

  2. I tried looking for it last year, it has been replaced with the jester statue, in the square where the market is held. You can see from the picture that the plinth of the moai statue has been reused for the jester statue. Couldn’t find any council records of it online either. A real tragedy!

    1. Thanks Charlotte, that partially solves the mystery. What a shame to have lost it. I can only assume it was earthquake related, but odd how little there is online about it

  3. Hi all, I have just contacted the director of the Arts Centre in Christchurch, who replied as follows:
    “The sculpture was put into storage after the earthquakes and we are now in the process of bringing it back to The Arts Centre. We are coordinating this with the Council, the sculptor and the Chilean Embassy. I am currently waiting to hear from these parties.”
    Good news is that it wasn’t lost in the earthquakes! I’ll keep an eye out for its return.

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