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There are three small islands at the base of RANO KAO, the volcano involved in the historic TANGATA MANU, Birdman Cult.

There used to be an annual cycle of ceremonial activities resulting in the election of a leader (Tanga Manu) for the next year.

Competitors had to run down the steep side of Rano Kao, swim to the small islands, capture the first egg of Manutara, the Rapa Nui seagull, swim back to Rano Kao, climb the slope to Orongo, the ceremonial village.

The cycle began in July with preparations at Orongo, with its 53 stone houses. During August, the competitors braved sharks and currents to swim about a mile to the islands where they awaited the arrival of the Manutara.

In September, the first egg would be found and delivered back to Orongo, determining the next year’s ruler.

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