Makahiki Games

Makahiki was split into three different phases: Ho’okupu was considered the time to make offerings to the deity’s to pay tribute to them for the abundance in the previous year and to call upon them for a prosperous year to come. During the second phase HULA was then performed and is now a form of what it is today. Kanaka’s gathered for a celebration of dancing hula, feasting and playing games that tested physical and mental abilities. The third phase is Wa’auhau is the time to give offerings to insure for the New Year. The Kanaka Maoli spent the next several days in sports and festival entertaining the people of the district, and work was forbidden. So was warfare. It was a time to regenerate and grow anew.

Some of these contests were not only used as arenas where the strong and swift could attain recognition and fame to step up in social classes, but they also served to train the many common folk who might need to be called upon later in battle.

It was mandatory that peace be kept in reverence of the God Lono. However, warriors also had to stay fit. So the games served as a way for warriors to also maintain their wit, skill, speed, and strength.

The games encourage camaraderie, good sportsmanship, and friendly rivalry. In today’s world the games are played not only to develop skills and quick thinking, they are played to instill pride in the Kanaka Maoli culture and to keep that culture alive for generations to come.




Form of Hawaiian Checkers.

The game begins with all the counters filling the board in an alternating pattern of black and white. Players then hop over one another’s pieces, capturing them similar to checkers. The first player unable to capture is the loser; his opponent is the winner.



Ulu Maika

Hawaiian Lawn Bowling

Measure off a distance of 15 feet from where the player is standing. For younger players, you can make the distance shorter. Pound the stakes into the ground here. Put them 6 inches apart. The player stands at the starting line and takes the rolling stone and tries to roll it so that it will go between the two stakes.


Moa Pahe’e

Moa Pahe’e

Dart Sliding

Set up two small stakes in the ground on each end of the course. The stakes should be a few inches wider than the spears. Players attempt to slide the spear on the ground and through the stakes. Players cannot cross the line made by the stakes on their side. This game requires strength and skill as the wooden stakes are difficult to handle and can be heavy.




Arm Wrestling Laying Down/Variations of Hawaiian Wrestling Opponents

The two contestants grasp hands, their elbows resting upon the ground, and each endeavors to press the other’s arm over. 


LonoMakaIhe - ‘O ‘O Ihe

Lono Maka Ihe/‘O ‘O Ihe

Spear Throwing

Students throw the spear (Ihe) to their partner. (May use some type of standing

target/hay bale if desired).  Partner then throws it back.  Continue throwing back and forth.


huki huki


Hawaiian Tug of War

Opponents pull on opposite ends of a long rope. The game ends when one team gets pulled to the other’s side.



Please join us and experience the games our ancestors enjoyed during the Makahiki season!

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