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Waikiki Beach Walk Celebrates Hawaiian Culture On July 17

July 17, 2022 to July 17, 2022
As part of our year-long celebration of our 15th anniversary, Waikiki Beach Walk is featuring a traditional Hawaiian cultural activity every month. This is part of our monthly Mele Hali‘a …our special presentation of Hawaiian music (mele) and hula scheduled for one Sunday (usually the third) each month. For July’s Mele Hali‘a, we are presenting the Makahiki Games.
Etching of the Makahiki Games


Makahiki means “new year” in Hawaiian, and the Makahiki Games were a tournament developed in ancient times to celebrate the turning of a new year in the Hawaiian calendar with a festival of games, and feasting.
On the surface, this seems like a whole lot of casual fun. But it was far more than just food, fun and games to the ancients.
First of all, the turning of the new year was a time decreed for reflection, gratitude, and renewal. Wars ceased. Major construction projects suspended. Debts were forgiven and gifts were prepared to be offered to Lono, the Hawaiian god of fertility, rainfall, and peace, with the hopes that these sacrifices would come back as blessings of bountiful crops, harmony and growing, healthy families.
Even the games themselves were specifically crafted to develop physical, mental, and spiritual strength. And once the offerings to Lono were made, the people were free to engage in the games and leisure to celebrate their year-long hard work. Major Makahiki tournaments were conducted in each community, with the champions invited by the royalty for special tournaments to determine the champion of the entire island.

Are you getting the idea that this was kind of a big deal? It was.


Etching of King Kamehameha

The original Makahiki Games consisted of multiple events, and they were quite similar to the ancient Greek Olympic games, as many contests required skills that were necessary for battle.

For example, one of the ancient “games” was Ōʻō Ihe, or spear tossing, and legend has it that King Kamehameha the Great once participated in this contest and had SEVEN spears thrown at him, with the great unifier of the islands catching three, dodging three, and deflecting one with his body!

After the cultural westernization that dampened traditional Hawaiian and Polynesian cultural expressions and practices through the late 19th and early-to-middle 20th centuries, the Makahiki Games were revived as part of the Hawaiian cultural renaissance that began in the 1970s, and are now presented throughout the Islands.

And while we won’t be featuring a spear throwing competition, Waikiki Beach Walk is proud to present our special Makahiki Games on Sunday, July 17, starting at 4pm with these select games:
  • Kōnane – A form of Hawaiian checkers
  • ‘Ulu Maika – Hawaiian Lawn Bowling
  • Moa Pahe'e – Dart Sliding.
  • Hukihuki – Hawaiian Tug of War.
Here is a list of the traditional events of the Makahiki Games:
  • Moa Pahee.  Players attempt to slide a torpedo-shaped dart along the ground through narrow goal posts that are approximately 50 feet away.
  • Ōʻō Ihe. Spear throwing or tossing, with contestants throwing spears into targets like an upright banana tree log instead of at people as in King Kamehameha’s time.
  • Kukini. A foot race.
  • Hukihuki. The Hawaiian form of tug of war.
  • Haka Moa.  A standing fight between two players who must hold their left leg with their left arm. The contestants then attempt to wrestle their opponent to the ground or out of a circle.
  • Uma and Pa Uma. A forms of hand wrestling. Pa Uma is played standing upright with both feet planted on the ground, and Uma has both players lying on their stomachs with their elbows on the ground.
  • Kōnane. A strategic game similar to a blend of chess and checkers.
  • Water sports competitions included
    •  ‘Au (swimming), 
    • Kaha Nalu (body surfing), and 
    • He’e Nalu (surfing).
  • Lele kawa. Cliff diving with the winner creating the least amount of splash.
  • Lele pahū. Cliff diving with the goal of making the biggest splash.
  • Heihei wa’a. Canoe racing in special, narrow canoes called kialoa that were designed for speed.
  • Ulu maika. A combination of lawn bowling and curling with contestants rolling a small disk-shaped stone (ulu) down a specially prepared path called the kahuamaika (“place of maika”). The farthest-rolled stone wins.
  • Mokomoko. Hawaiian form of boxing.
  • He’e holua. lava sledding.



Waikiki Beach Walk Celebrates Hawaiian Culture On July 17