The Makahiki Season

For the makaʻāinana, the Makahiki season was a time of enjoyment and delight in the ceremonies and games.  There was also some apprehension about performing before the aliʻi nui or even some anxiety about whether offerings and hoʻokupu would be acceptable. The focus of this season was a time for men, women, and chiefs to rest, strengthen the body, and have great feasts.  Labor was prohibited and it was time for resting and feasting.


Lono Arriving In The Ahapua’a

                                                                        A Sign That Lono Was Arriving

Makahiki season is a time for makaʻāinana to provide their finest works and carry out accomplishments of athleticism before the Akua and aliʻi. Individuals thrilled in seeing their regional champs complete. The scene was complete with all the cheering and mocking of the days’ sporting events. The majority of Makahiki sports included skills for war, so for the aliʻi nui, it was an opportunity to determine the very best warriors. This occasion might last for 4 days. In some cases, the champs of the numerous sports would follow the Akua Makahiki as it continued its journey to the next ahupuaʻa.

Offerings and Gifts

Offerings and Gifts

Following the hoʻokupu duration, hula was performed and paʻani (games) were played. With the assistance of Laka, one among Pele’s siblings, hula was presented to Lono and Kāne to appreciate for the previous year’s successes and request for another rewarding year. A few of the games that were played throughout this time consisted of: heihei kūkini (racing), mokomoko (boxing), ʻoʻo ʻihe (spear throwing), pūhenehene (a game of deceptiveness), ʻōlelo nane (riddles), and kōnane (just like chess). These games were played to make sure that warriors would remain in outstanding physical and psychological shape while honoring Lono and not battling in wars. By winning games, some makaʻāinana (citizens) were even able to step up in social class.

The net of Maoloha, used in ceremony to ensure an abundance crop in the coming year.

The net of Maoloha, used in a ceremony to ensure an abundant crop in the coming year.

 Different Events

There were numerous events that individuals eagerly anticipated throughout the time of Lono. One such event included ke Kōkō o Maoloha i ka lani or “the net of Maoloha in the heavens.” This was a reference to an ancient moʻolelo of the time when the net initially appeared in the sky throughout the time of famine. One variation explains how Waia, a kupua or supernatural being, pull down the net, which had lots of food, and shook it so that the food would be “spread over the land for the advantage of the starving people.”

The event was a reenactment of the legend, utilizing a net with big eyes. As soon as the net was filled with food, males held up the ends as the kahuna chanted a mele oli. At specific parts of this mele, the guys holding the net would shake it strongly to ensure that food fell through the net. This signified the abundance of the coming year. In accordance with the Hawaiian scholar Davida Malo, “If the food did not drop from the net, the kahuna stated there would be scarcity in the land; however, if all fell out he anticipated that the season would be productive.”

Moko moko, Hawaiian Wrestling match

Moko moko, Hawaiian Wrestling match


Just as the rise of Makaliʻi announced the start of the Makahiki season and the start of the kapu belonging to Lono, when the wooden akua loa departed from an ahupuaʻa, it signified the releasing (hoʻonoa) of Lono’s kapu and replacement again by those belonging to Kū.

When it comes to the moku, or the bigger district, the month of Kāʻelo (approximately 3 to 4 months after Makahiki started) saw the akua loa finish its circuit. The matters of state were now put in order and the akua were dismantled and the Makahiki came to an end. This time consisted of the lifting of the kapu on aku fishing while ʻōpelu then ended up being kapu. The aliʻi nui and the kāhuna would ceremonially delight in pork, having actually avoided consuming it at the start of the season. This marked the ending of Makahiki observances.

The Makahiki Was A Time To Reset The Year

Makali'i star cluster (the Pleiades). The constellation rises in the east this time of year. Image captured by UH Hilo astronomy students B. Bjorn, ...

Makali’i star cluster (the Pleiades). The constellation rises in the east this time of year. Image captured by UH Hilo astronomy students B. Bjorn, …

The Makahiki served not just as a reprieve, however, a reset for the year. The aliʻi and the kāhuna got their arrangements and the makaʻāinana anticipated another thriving year as life reduced back into its typical regimens and cycles.

For us today, we might not be preparing to reenact the Kōkō o Maoloha event, yet, there are important Makahiki lessons that apply in our everyday lives. For each cycle, there is a start and an ending. By acknowledging this and using the ideal focus and effort to correctly wehe (open or start) and pan (close, surface) our undertakings, we better place ourselves to provide for our families and lāhui and to deal with the obstacles ahead of us in the next stage of the cycle.