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Makahiki strengthens military, community bond

11 November 2022

From Anna Marie G. General, Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii - The Military and the Hawaii community joined together to celebrate Kapuaikaula Makahiki Nov. 5 at Rainbow Bay Marina on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH).
The Oahu Council of Hawaiian Civic Clubs, Navy Region Hawaii and JBPHH collaborated to preserve the rich heritage by hosting the annual Makahiki festival. This event provided an opportunity for the military and Hawaii community to come together to learn about the rich pre-western Hawaiian traditions and history of the lands surrounding JBPHH.

Makahiki is an ancient Hawaiian celebration dedicated to Lono, the god of welfare, agriculture and health; to give thanks for nature’s gifts received from land and sea.

“Because of COVID, the last Makahiki was held in 2019, so it’s been a while,” said Jeff Pantaleo, Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command Hawaii archeologist. “But, what’s really different this year is the new leadership for the Navy, so this is their first Makahiki experience. They’re very supportive and this has been a really strong component for the relationship between the Navy and the native Hawaiian community.”

The event began with a reenactment of the arrival of Lono with his cohort, involving command leadership as the canoe paddlers, traversing across the sea from Rainbow Bay Marina to Loko Paaiau fishpond and back to the shoreline of the marina where they were welcomed with an oli or welcoming chant.

Following the arrival, a procession took place for the Hookupo, or offering of gifts, to Lono to give thanks for agricultural bounties. Ceremonial offerings such as leis, plants and fruit were placed on a ceremonial altar as welcoming chants were sung for each offering.

After the offering of gifts, a hula performance took place followed by opening remarks provided by Rear Adm. Stephen Barnett, commander, Navy Region Hawaii.

“On behalf of our community of Sailors, Airmen and their families, I want to thank you all for taking time to come out today to share your culture and visit with us,” said Barnett. “I look forward to learning even more about Hawaiian culture and traditions from our friends in the community. Mahalo to the Royal Order of Kamehameha and Hawaiian Civic Clubs for this opportunity.”

Barnett concluded his remarks by introducing Shad Kane, cultural practitioner with the Oahu Council of Hawaiian Civic Clubs to talk about the history and importance of Makahiki.

“The significance of the Makahiki in Hawaiian culture was to establish one relationship between chiefs and the people that lived in different districts,” said Kane, who is also a Navy Vietnam veteran. “That was important. Because warfare was so common, people would not fight for a chief unless they knew him. The Makahiki gave them an opportunity for people to get to know chiefs. That’s the significance of the Makahiki in addition to celebrating Lono.”

“The Makahiki is in celebration of Lono, the god of agriculture, welfare and health. So today, even ancient, it had a party atmosphere to encourage people to attend. The Makahiki was ideal, games were played to test the health and welfare of his people,” said Kane. “We’ve been celebrating Makahiki with the Navy for the last 20 years. We used to have the Makahiki on Ford Island and at Hickam Beach. So today, we are simply here [Rainbow Bay Marina] because it’s easy for civilians to get access,” said Kane.

Concluding the event, the military and community joined together for some fun with traditional Hawaiian games including Ulu Maika (stone rolling), Moa Pahee (dart tossing), Makaihe (spear throwing) and Hakamoa (one leg wrestling).

“This brings us together, not to talk about projects but just to talk story and to get to know each other better,” said Pantaleo.

Capt. Mark Sohaney, commander, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam concluded the event with closing remarks.

“As the admiral mentioned earlier, Makahiki gives us the opportunity to learn more about the culture and traditions of our local Hawaiian friends,” said Sohaney. “On behalf of everyone at Joint Base, I want to thank you for such a wonderful morning.”

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