One of the most powerful archaeological sites in the Marquesas, Hikokua was discovered by the archaeologist Robert Suggs in 1957 and has been restored and maintained by Hatiheu locals since 1987. It dates from around AD 1250 and was in use until the 1800s.

The vast, central, rectangular esplanade (tohua) was used for dance performances at community festivals.

It’s flanked by tiers of small flat basalt blocks that were once used as steps for the spectators.

On the terrace stand two modern stone carvings by a local artist, and a flat rock that was used for various purposes, including solo dances and rituals associated with puberty.

Near the centre of the esplanade are nine Christian tombs. They probably date from the time of the first missionaries’ arrival, after the abandonment of the site.

The platform at the bottom, on the northern side of the esplanade towards the ocean, was the tuu (ceremonial activity centre), upon which sacrifices and displaying of the victims’ bodies took place. The chief’s residence stood at the northeast corner of the esplanade.

Hikokua is just off the dirt road, at the entrance to the village.

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