As Summer comes to a close and the Fall Equinox is upon us, the weather cools, and the kolea make their return to Hawaiʻi for winter, Kanaka ʻŌiwi prepare to give thanks to Lono during Makahiki season. Sometimes known as the beginning of the Hawaiian New Year, Makahiki is traditionally identified by the change from harvest to agriculture season, as well as the rise of the constellation Pleiades. Running from October/November through February/March, Makahiki is a time when work stops and people focus on rest, play, and celebration.
There are three phases of Makahiki: cleansing and hoʻokupu, play and celebration, and waʻa ʻauhau (tax canoe) to Lono.
In the cleansing and hoʻokupu phase, both war and work stop, as the community gets ready to welcome the passing of the god Lono via his aliʻi, or representatives. Offerings to the god of fertility, agriculture, rainfall, music and peace include puaʻa (pig), kalo (taro), ʻuala (sweet potato), hulu (feathers), moena (mats) and kapa (cloth).
In the play and celebration phase, people play games such as konane (checkers), ʻulu maika (bowling), moa paheʻe (dart sliding), ʻōʻō ihe (spear throwing), kukini (foot racing), hukihuki (tug of war), haka moa (chicken fighting), pā uma (hand wrestling) and hei (string figure game). Some call these games the Hawaiian Olympics.
In the waʻa ʻauhau phase, an aliʻi impersonating Lono arrives on a canoe to participate in a battle on land to prove himself, deflecting spears thrown at him. After, a canoe is loaded with hoʻokupu to Lono, then set adrift at sea as an offering. At the end of this closing ceremony, Makahiki is considered pau.
Modern Native Hawaiians celebrate Makahiki in ways very similar to our ancestors of the past, even after centuries passed. In taking time to pause and play during the time of agriculture, Makahiki season is essential to the preservation of Hawaiʻi's limited natural resources. Hence, this season is considered the time of regeneration for Kanaka ʻŌiwi. Aligned with the turn of Western holidays, Makahiki reminds us of the need to connect with others, give thanks for what we have and mind the inevitable changes in the world around us.
-Pi'ikea Kalakau, Hui o Ko'olaupoko board member
The mission of Hui o Ko`olaupoko is to protect ocean health by restoring the `aina: mauka to makai. This is done in partnership with stakeholders including interested citizens, non-governmental organizations, government, educational institutions and businesses while using and focusing on sound ecological principles, community input, and cultural heritage.