The Makahiki Games

October 15, 2019

The Makahiki Games

Makahiki season is approaching us! And with that comes the excitement of a long time Native Hawaiian tradition, the Makahiki Games! In Hawai‘i, this season marks a time of celebration, peace, relaxation and harvest. It’s a time dedicated to the god Lono, also known as the god of fertility, peace and agriculture. During Makahiki, the ancient Hawaiians would honor Lono by feasting, dancing hula, telling stores and engaging in a variety of different sports known as the Makahiki games. 

Some of the games that the native Hawaiians enjoyed were: pūhenehene, heihei kūkini, and kōnane. Pūhenehene was a skilled-game of deception most enjoyed by the aliʻi and makaʻāinana. The game was usually played by two competing teams. Traditionally, one of the teams would hide a stone or a piece of wood known as noʻa under mounds of kapa. The goal of the opposing team is to correctly guess where the noʻa is hidden to score a point. Heihei kūkini is a foot racing game in which speed is key! The competitors of this game have to run and catch land animals, enemies or go to a safe zone in the shortest amount of time in order to win. And finally, Kōnane – this two-player game is often referred to as Hawaiian checkers. It’s played on a stone board known as papa mū that has shallow holes set in rows and columns. In kōnane, the object is to be the last one to make a move or have the option to make moves. Kōnane is said to be a battle stimulator which helped ali‘i organize and set up their battle formations. 

Today, Makahiki still serves as a period of reflection and pride for Native Hawaiians. It teaches us lessons of strength, mindfulness, speed, agility and wit that are carried with us even as the period passes. If you ever get a chance to partake in the spirited and playful Makahiki games, make sure to take these lessons with you and allow them to help you become a better competitor! #MakahikiSeason2019 



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