Kona Pacific observed the beginning of Makahiki with a reverent ceremony on the morning of Wednesday, November 27, directly following our morning protocol. The Makahiki opening ceremony was officiated by Kumu Keala Ching and included a presentation about the history and significance of Makahiki, followed by the ceremonial partaking of canoe plant foods, an offering representative of the abundance of our ahupua‘a, Kanaueue.
Throughout the rest of the day, led by our 4th graders who have been preparing for weeks, the students engaged in Makahiki games such as ʻōʻō ihe (spear-throwing game), hukihuki (tug-of-war) and haka moa (traditional one-arm, one-leg wrestling match).
In Hawaiʻi, from ancient times, every mid-November finds eager eyes turned to the eastern horizon at sunset, searching for the celestial sign as the sky grows darker. And then one night, it appears – the heavenly indication that the season of Makahiki will soon begin, the rising of the constellation Makaliʻi (the Pleiades).
A few days later, Makahiki begins with the sighting of the first visible crescent moon (Hilo moon) after the rise of Makaliʻi.
These days, these celestial indications don’t have to be visually sighted, as they can be precisely predicted. This year, the early evening rising of the Makaliʻi took place on November 17th, followed by the Hilo moon and the start of the Makahiki season soon after sunset on November 27th.
The beginning of Makahiki is the start of the Hawaiian new year, and a time to honor the deity Lono, one of four major deities recognized throughout the Pacific islands. The domain and qualities of Lono, which include fertility, agriculture and peace, are honored and celebrated during Makahiki. Celebrations throughout the season include feasting, sports and games, hula and storytelling, while rest, rejuvenation, spiritual cleansing, and strengthening relationships and connections are also an important focus during the Makahiki season.
ʻAuhau (taxes) and hoʻokupu (offerings) were also collected during the time of Makahiki. Every ahupuaʻa (land division), as a reflection of their pride in the abundance of their ahupuaʻa, gave of its best products to the aliʻi nui, who acted as deputies to Lono to receive these offerings as they traveled around the island in a reverent ceremonial procession, carrying a staff carved with a depiction of Lono.
Hau’oli Makahiki Hou!