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For the fourth year in a row, archaeologist Britton Shepardson inaugurates the Terevaka Archaeological Outreach (TAO) with explora’s support. In this 2016 edition, the contribution to the local and scientific community will be a 3D register of moai statues, which will be posted on the program’s official website and donated to the National Monuments Council.
The first time archaeologist Britton Shepardson arrived to Easter Island in the year 2000, he did so in order to begin a research project for his university as well as to coordinate the first archaeology school in Hawaii –which alongside Easter Island and New Zealand make up the Polynesian triangle. This project included a camp for foreign children to learn about Rapa Nui’s archaeological wealth. In order to achieve this, Shepardson traveled to Easter Island several times between 2000 and 2003. During this time, he obtained a number of scholarships and was then able to accomplish what he had planned.
To Shepardson however, it was highly important that his work contribute to the local community in one way or another. Accordingly, he focused all of his knowledge and research towards education. “To me it is essential to do things that support the scientific community, but that also contribute to the local community”, asserts the archaeologist, who is an advocate of sharing the information he gathers.
Shepardson initiated TAO out of concern for Easter Island’s heritage conservation issues, as well as recognition of the island’s high archaeological value. TAO aims to educate the Rapa Nui youth on archaeology as well as teach them to value their history, providing them with the tools to be their own cultural ambassadors.
In 2013, explora decided to support the archaeologist through a partnership that has noticeably fostered the project’s development. “The work carried out with explora has been amazing in terms of the resources offered, including transport, a campsite, and food for the team. The biggest change that we have achieved through this alliance is getting young people out of the city and away from distractions”, remarks Britton.
Currently, the program is carried out with 20 teenagers that are selected based on their school grades and a personal statement, and who are already camping in the hotel’s gardens since July 10th. This year, the program will focus on archaeology and the etymology of the names of Rapa Nui locations. The great novelty of this 2016 edition will be the 3D register of moais, an unprecedented project for Easter Island and a completely new technology for the great majority of the students.
The program has gained more and more local support and popularity. In fact, some of its participants have become spokespeople for Rapa Nui culture. A few examples are first-generation students who are now an archaeologist, an anthropologist, and a history schoolteacher.