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Makahiki on Maunakea: Celebrating the Season of Lono

As we enter the season of Lono, the Makahiki festivals meant to honor the god of harvest, fertility, and peace are underway across the islands. Even though it’s Molokai that is best known for its celebrations, Hawai’i Island also has popular events filled with games, music, rituals, and more. This year, the festivities had a new venue, as Hawaiians who have gathered at the base of Maunakea hosted a Makahiki wehena on the mauna.


Makahiki celebrations started during a special sunrise ‘aha and ran through the end of the day, culminating in the evening ‘aha. 

The ala kūpuna is typically filled with vibrant red shirts, the uniform of the protectors, but it was bathed in white during the celebration. Participants wore their white kīhei to symbolize the peace of the season.

Strategy is an important part of Makahiki games, and adults and children participated in a Kōnane tournament on the ala kūpuna.

The physical games taught on the mauna focused on pushing and pulling games. Even those that appeared to be a test of physical strength involved using strategy in order to outwit the opponent. 

People of all ages took turns learning about and practicing the various Makahiki games. Though the physical games were mostly just for fun, the Kōnane tournament had an adult and youth winner.

There are over 300 kinds of Makahiki games, many of which are similar to Olympic games.

Visitors also made flower crowns and bouquets as part of the celebration.

For those who missed the celebration on the mauna, there is another chance to learn about and participate in the games. Ka Moku o Keawe Makahiki hosts an annual event in Waimea every January. The 2020 event is set for January 18. 


All photos by Laurie Lyons-Makaimoku. All rights reserved.

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