Is the collapse of Easter Island in the plot of Moana?

Before I get into how the Disney movie Moana could be connected to Easter Island, I want to share some insight about how the collapse of Easter Island is still relevant today. Many of the challenges the Easter Islanders faced are very similar, if not the same, as the challenges that we face today. For example, deforestation. Deforestation played a major part in the collapse of Easter Island. The islanders’ continuous use of the limited amount of trees on the island had a cascading effect on so many things. Once the trees were gone, they could no long build sturdy boats, houses, or tools. Deforestation is a big problem that we still face today. All over the world, especially in America, we use a massive amount of  paper products a day without thinking about it. Not only toilet paper, writing paper, disposable dinnerware, but wood is an ingredient in our fabrics. Another challenge that we have in common with the Easter Islanders is competition. The Easter Islanders used the majority of their resources to build and transport these statues that weighed tens of tons all to claim status and prestige for their clan. Because of this rivalry between clans, the lack of resources went unchecked. This is very similar in how, especially on the United States, some much of our money and resources to make and maintain a huge military. A military so large, the United States spends more that the next seven largest countries spend on military combined. Another challenge that both the Easter Islanders faced and the world is facing now is the limits of the ocean. Because the Easter Islanders no longer had the trees needed to build bigger boats that could sail farther out from the island, the reef got over fished and soon there were no fish left. Today, fishing boats are having to go farther and farther out into the ocean in order the catch the right kinds of fish, which causes a whole cascade of other issues. These three challenges are just a few of the challenges that the Easter Islanders faced and that we are still trying to overcome today. My greatest take away from this is that I need to be more mindful of what resources I’m using and how I can use this knowledge of the Easter Island collages and the challenges surrounding it to enhance the way I design. Researching the collapse of Easter Island has also shown me that everything is connected. Every problem that we face, every challenge that we work to overcome, is interconnected with so many other issues. And that solving one problem will most likely not solve the rest, or could even make them worse.

So, if you haven’t seen the movie Moana, stop reading this and go watch it! But if you have feel free to continue.

 After reading a short paper about the collapse of Easter Island, there were many things that made my mind connect it to some of the plot points in Moana. So in the beginning of the movie Moana wants to sail beyond the reef and her father says no. When she tries anyway with the small fishing boat, the sea is so rough that she capsizes and the boat is broken to pieces. This is much like what would have happened to the Easter Islanders if they were to try to sail off in their reed boats. Then Moana is told about trees that are dying and that there is no fish. Again very similar to what was happening on Easter Island. Moana’s grandmother explains what is happening by telling her about Maui and the Heart of Tafiti. Now it might be a big jump for me to make, but it could be understood that the grandmother’s story is that of a warning. That we as a planet need to be better and take responsibility for our actions and the environmental impacts our actions make. In this aspect the green Heart of Tafiti represents sustainable thinking and growth. That until we start implementing the sustainable practices on a larger scale, nothing will get better, but it will get worse.

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