Despite repeated claims, Rapa Nui does not appear to represent a case of "ecocide." The documented population collapse for Rapa Nui occurred as a consequence of European contacts, with Old World diseases and slave-trading. As [JoAnn VanTilburg has] noted, the scary parables and metaphors for disaster represent "a projection of Western values which emphasizes the self-destruction of the Rapa Nui culture over the actual, near-annihilation of it by contact with the West." Indeed, early ethnographer Alfred Metraux described the historic genocide as "one of the most hideous atrocities committed by white men in the South Seas" and as "the catastrophe that wiped out Easter Island's civilization".
Today the idea of "ecocide" enjoys popular acceptance, but an actual genocide decimated the native Rapa Nui population and its culture. Unfortunately, the victims of cultural and physical extermination have been turned into the perpetrators of their own demise.
Terry L. Hunt. 2007. Rethinking Easter Islands ecological catastrophe. Journal of Archaeological Science