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Competing for Lono

Photo by Pamela Mathis

Kaunakakai Ball Field thundered with cheers and the roar of an enthusiastic crowd as hundreds of residents and visitors gathered to compete in or support their favorite competitors at Ka Molokai Makahiki last Saturday morning.

Photo by Catherine Cluett Pactol

Each year, Ka Molokai Makahiki is celebrated to mark the end of the Makahiki season from October to January, traditionally observed as a period of peace and harvest in honor of the god Lono. Today, hundreds of students gather annually on Molokai from around the state to participate in carrying on its cultural significance. During the opening ceremonies, the banner of Lono is carried high, while representatives from each district bear offerings to place on the stone ahu in keeping with protocol.

Catherine Cluett Pactol

The three-day event featured athletic competitions for all ages, an evening lecture Thursday, cultural practices for students at the historic Makahiki grounds at Na`iwa Friday morning, and a Ho`olaulea after the opening ceremonies and elementary competition Saturday. This year also featured a “Beach Bucket Challenge” cook-off in which home cook contestants teamed up for some heated competition in the kitchen.

Photo by Catherine Cluett Pactol

Students train for months and are selected from their schools to compete in events like kukini, or running races (pictured), hukihuki, or tug of war (pictured), uma or arm wrestling and konane, or Hawaiian checkers, to name a few. After each event, the winner honored the island’s kupuna, who watched the games from head of the field (pictured).


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