Navy joins with Hawaiians in celebrating Makahiki
The 17th annual Makahiki festival brought together the Navy and Native Hawaiian Civic Clubs.
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Juliette Taweel tossed a spear longer than her 3-1/2-year-old frame at the trunk of a banana tree.
“I was a little nervous,” she said afterwards Saturday while in her mother’s arms at a Makahiki festival at Rainbow Bay Marina in Pearl Harbor.
Juliette was one of more than 100 attendees at the 17th annual Makahiki festival organized by the Navy and the Oahu Council of the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs.
Cultural practitioner and host Shad Kane said the festival originated during negotiations on an agreement in 2002 for the development of lands under Navy Region Hawaii, which includes several cultural landscapes, such as Ford Island, Barbers Point, Kaena Point and Barking Sands on Kauai.
Kane said the Navy agreed to consult with the Hawaiian Civic Clubs on construction in areas that could impact cultural sites. Also, the Navy asked if there was a Hawaiian cultural event that both sides could be involved in, and the civic clubs suggested the annual Makahiki.
Kane said the Makahiki season, which historically was from about October to January, was a time for ancient Hawaiians to celebrate Lono, the god of agriculture and peace, but also a time to form relationships between chiefs and the commoners as the chiefs visited different parts of the islands.
In a similar way, the annual Makahiki festival at Pearl Harbor helps build relationships between the Navy and the Hawaiian Civic Clubs, he said.
Rear Adm. Robert Chadwick, commander of Navy Region Hawaii, said the festival was about “working together to come to common goals,” and added that the lives of generations of military members “have been enriched by that exposure to Hawaiian culture.”
Benton Pang, president of Oahu Council, said the event offered a friendly way to teach others about traditional Hawaiian culture. He said during the Makahiki season there was no war, but there were games to allow warriors to maintain their abilities and show off their skills.
At Saturday’s festival, games included spear-throwing, the rolling of stones and dart-tossing. Participants also competed in one-legged wrestling by holding one leg and their opponent’s hand while trying to toss their opponent out of a circle.
Kaiulani Pieper-Mokiao, of Nanakuli, has been participating in Makahiki festivals since she was a kid and wanted to share the games with her two sons, Valynce and Vryxten.
“To be able to see that come full circle, it’s the best part,” she said.
Jeff Pantaleo, an archaeologist and the cultural resource manager for Navy Region Hawaii, said the Makahiki festival was helping to strengthen relationships between members of the Navy and Native Hawaiians through laughter and conversations.
“When you know each other, it’s a lot easier to talk and be open and to trust,” he said.