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PAPEÉTE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, March 20) - French Polynesia Vice President/Tourism Minister Jacqui Drollet and officials from Hawai´i's Bernice P. Bishop Museum discussed building a museum and operating cultural tours for tourists during a recent visit to the Leeward Island of Huahine, northwest of Tahiti.

Dr. Yosihiko H. Sinoto, who has been uncovering and restoring French Polynesia's archeological past for nearly 40 years as the Bishop Museum's senior anthropologist, led a group of Bishop Museum officials on the visit. They included Dr. William Y. Brown, the president of the Bishop Museum, and Dr. Norman C. Robert and Dr. Alvin P. Adam.

The museum officials were visiting Tahiti to sign a five-year cooperative agreement to continue a relationship in researching archaeological sites in Tahiti and Her Islands.

Drollet and the museum officials visited one of the oldest, most historical and most renowned restored archeological sites in French Polynesia on Huahine. That is the restored marae temples of the ancient royal village of Maeva, the traditional headquarters of Huahine, the ancient capital of a complex and highly centralized system of Polynesian government.

Sinoto restored the Maeva Village and nearby Matairea Hill marae temples in 1967 and 1968. Ever since then, Sinoto has continued restoration work on Huahine as well as on the "Sacred Island" of Raiatea and Tahiti's sister island of Moorea.

During the visit, the group discussed the idea of building a museum on Huahine next to the mountain near the restored Maeva Village marae temple. This would undoubtedly be done as part of the partnership with the Bishop Museum, according to a communiqué from Drollet's office. The proposed museum would be located about 150 meters (492 feet) from Maeva's big "fare pote'e", or meeting house in Tahitian. This structure built over the water at Lake Fauna Nui is a replica of a traditional meeting house.

The visiting group also met with members of the Opu Nui Association of Maeva. During that meeting, Drollet announced in the presence of French ethnologist Bruno Saura that the government of President Oscar Temaru plans to appoint the association to operate Maeva's "fare pote'e" and provided the necessary funds, the communiqué stated. Proposals made to the commune have remained unanswered for the past year, it added.

The visit to Huahine ended with a stop at the Manunu marae located on the Maeva motu, or islet. Sinoto explained the history and restoration work done at this site.

Sinoto also expressed a desire to set up a cultural tour for tourists linking the various historical archeological sites in the Maeva Village area. His idea would be to have people from Huahine conduct the tours in outrigger canoes, operating the canoes and serving as guides. Drollet indicated an interest in Sinoto's proposal, the communiqué stated.

March 21, 2006

Tahitipresse: www.tahitipresse.pf

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