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Voyaging Canoes

Popular Hawaiian traditions paddle their way into the future

By Cheyanna Donaldson-Technology has advanced our civilization immensely, but one can never ignore the power of our Papahanaumoku. The waves preceding the beginnings of the Eddie Aikau can account for the sheer power of the kai, which is why at the Duke Kahanamoku Challenge we have a chance to honor those who have challenged Papahanaumoku and Wakea to help bring post modern water sports to modern culture.  This year’s honorees consisted of the late Mau Piailug, who taught non-instrument navigation, and the Pi’ianai’a ohana, living legends of Hawai’i’s voyaging canoes, which include the famous Hokule’a.

Shifting from a 25 year tradition, the former Ala Wai Challenge was renamed to pay tribute to one of Hawai’i’s most well-known water sport legends and to the location. Due to construction, the outrigger canoe challenge typically held at Ala Wai canal was moved to extend from The Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon to the Great Lawn. The Duke Kahanamoku Challenge is a fundraising event, sponsored by Hilton and arranged by the Waikiki Community Center to keep the programs thriving for visitors and residents of Waikiki area.

Pu announced the beginning of the celebration on the Halau Hula ‘o Hokulani, but people were well in the water and enjoying the sun before the conch shell call. Oil paintings by Mark Brown were unveiled for each of the honorees of this year’s challenge and The Royal Hawaiian Band started off the ho`olaule`a. The Hawaiian Farmers Market spaced around the Great Lawn was full of traditional Hawaiian gifts; shells, salts, flowers and Pro Bowl merchandise.  Kamehameha Schools organized the makahiki games, where else but the beach? People of all ages, kama’aina and malahini came together to celebrate all that the community of Waikiki and Hilton Hawaiian Village have to offer. Food was available at restaurants along the Hilton Hawaiian Village walk.

Makahiki games began early with ‘ulu maika (sand bowling), moa pahe’e (dart sliding), and nui relay (coconut race) each testing a competitors strength, endurance and speed. Watching is free but to play you must pay- small fees for the variety of services Waikiki Community Center has to offer. More games like, “the kukini (messenger run) it’s especially challenging to ones strength, endurance, and speed. You need to know and remember Hawaiian values or phrases,” says Kamehameha School Official Keolu Bento, “Those who don’t will have a rough time.” And of course we all know that the Huki Kaula (tug-of-war) is testing one’s strength, but it also helps with teamwork, heavily required in canoe races.

Once the canoe races began spectators flocked to the beaches and rocks to watch the competition. With the exception of Atlantis and surfer crossings, twenty-eight outrigger canoe teams raced across Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon. It’s a celebration for all who like Hawaiian music, beach games and sports, but this party could use what every great Hawaiian ho`olaule`a hes, more food!

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RPK Duke Kahanamoku Challenge 1-23-11 (1)

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2 Comments

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