The Sojourn of the First Missionary on Rapa Nui: Eugene Eyraud Among the Kanacs, 1864
Brother Eugene Eyraud was the first missionary to work on Rapa Nui. In December 1864 he wrote a letter from Valparaiso to the Very Reverend Father Superior of the Order of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary in Paris, telling him about his experiences during his first visit to Rapa Nui. This letter has been summarized in many publications and, apparently, translated into Spanish. However, we know of no translation available in English and the absence of such a translation has deprived many of those interested in Rapa Nui of a charming and informative account of life on Rapa Nui in the middle of the nineteenth century. In November 2002, while assisting the curators of the museum in Hanga Roa, and as part of our contribution to an expedition organized by Earthwatch under the auspices of Dr. Christopher Stevenson, we came across the correspondence of Brother Eugene and, upon learning that no English translation seemed to exist, we decided to take up the task ourselves. We believe that our efforts will be rewarded by the pleasure that this letter will give to those who are now able to read it.