14 Jun 2007

Chile president makes rare appearance with Easter Island leaders

2:18 pm on 14 June 2007

The president of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, has made a rare appearance alongside Easter Island leaders in Santiago to promote the ancient stone statues of Rapa Nui.

The sculptures - known as the moai - are top contenders in an international competition to find the seven man-made wonders of the world.

More than 50 million internet votes have been registered.

President Bachelet called on Chileans to vote for the moai to show the pride she says they feel for Rapa Nui culture.

The mayor of Easter Island, Pedro Edmunds Paoa, says the moai were the first of the seven wonders.

He says for a Chilean person, the moai were nothing more than monuments.

But he says for the Polynesian Rapa Nui, they are people constantly conveying a message.

Some Rapa Nui people think the government in mainland Chile has not done enough to promote the moai.