16 Apr 2013

Rapa Nui councilor advocates working with Chile, not independence

4:39 am on 16 April 2013

Indigenous Rapa Nui are being urged to work together with Chile rather than pursue independence in order to overcome the island's environmental and economic challenges.

Mai Teao is a member of the Easter Island Town Council and part of a delegation that visited New Zealand last week to look at how Maori have negotiated with the government over marine conservation.

Mr Teao says other Rapa Nui are more radical than him, but he doesn't believe it would benefit his island to become independent of Chile.

However he says Rapa Nui needs more autonomy.

"We need autonomous decision-making, that's the priority and we need the Chilean government to respect that. Today we are children of Chile and we need Chile to move forward but we also need to make our own decisions. I think that Rapa Nui need to move forward as brothers, as companions, walking hand in hand."

Mai Teao says Rapa Nui must protect their sea and land for their children.