Molokai Renews Itself For The Hawaiian New Year: A Spirited Makahiki Weekend

This past weekend, the Makahiki games celebration rolled into town and took Molokai by storm as crowds flocked to Kaunakakai for a day full of sporting events, musical performances, hula, and general healthy carousing. Before the in-town games commenced, however Ho`olehua intermediate and Aka`ula schools from Molokai and off-island schools Kamehemeha from Maui and Nanakuli and God’s Own Country, both from O`ahu, gathered at Naiwa, the traditional site for the games, the day before the celebration. The Molokai Dispatch was on hand to document both events.

“Makahiki was an old school time for gettin’ yo’ freak-on!” says expert Mikiala Pescaia with a grin. ”Long before official Hawaiian unification, because there was no war or work allowed, men and women would be free to gather together around this time and many children would end up being conceived.” This supported the idea that the Makahiki was a time of renewal and fertility since the children conceived during one year’s celebration would be born around the time of the following years’ Makahiki.

Molokai’s current incarnation of Makahiki is into it’s 26th year; the original celebrations had been cancelled in 1918 after Molokai Ranch (its old owners) purchased the land where the ceremony and games were traditionally held.

Today, Molokai is a leader in the renaissance of Makahiki; though some of the reasons for the celebration have changed, the ceremony and games continue on as an integral element of Hawaiian culture. Makahiki continues to be sacred to modern-day lifestyles because it perpetuates and promotes a healthy and vibrant Hawaiian identity through competition and fellowship.

Locals and visitors of various age groups got together this weekend to compete in the following exiting events (English translations in parentheses):

-Haka Moa (chicken fighting- left leg held by left arm, right hand holding opponents’ right hand in attempts to unbalance opponent)

-Pohaku (8kg stone toss for distance)

-`O`o ihe (different weighted spears thrown into upright palm of banana logs)

-Ulu `Maika (stone bowling through upright stakes at 5 inch? distance)

-Moa Pahe`e (literally chicken skid– oblong wooden bats bowled through stakes at 5 inch? distance)

-Pa Uma (standing arm wrestle with both feet planted, similar to Haka Moa)

-Uma (arm wrestle from prone position, laying on stomachs)

-Heihei Wawae (400m dash)

-Kukini (100m sprint)

-Konane (strategy board game, not unlike checkers)

-Huki Huki- (team tug-of-war)




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