I refuse to start this introduction to the topic of Makahiki with some generic verbiage that insists on aligning our practice with Western scientific ones by saying that the Makahiki begins when Makaliʻi rises at sunset, and Hilo comes forth Welehu, then we are in Makahiki. Rather, let’s talk about Makahiki.
Makahiki is indicated by seasonal change. You may have noticed this when the weather went from simply dry and warm to a little more wet and cooler some time in late September or early October, or more accurately during ʻIkuā. ʻIkuā is the transitional malama accompanied by rains, rough seas, thunder and lightning, birds being more vocal, etc. That is nothing more than Lono knocking on the door, saying “Hūi, ma loko aʻe nō au a komo aku.” Lono does it every year. Lono, you ask? Of course you know that Lono is one of the four major akua Hawaiʻi maoli. He is the god of agriculture as well as warriors, unlike Kū who is more associated with war, which is more political.
Who, though, heeds Lono’s beckoning? ʻO Akua ka pō, ʻo Welehu ka malama. On Wednesday, November 1st, the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s Native Hawaiian Student Services, a program of Hawai‘inuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge, hosted “Kau Makaliʻi, Laʻa Makahiki.” Organized and moderated by Kaipulaumakaniolono Baker, Kamehaʻikū and Wali Camvel, Dr. Kāwika Tengan and myself answered questions about genealogical connections to Makahiki, how Makahiki reestablishes our Kanaka Maoli sense of self, and ways that Makahiki and its accompanying religious practice centered around Lonoikamakahiki is part-and-parcel in emancipating ourselves from the mental slavery of colonization. As the Poʻo Moʻo Lono for Kahoʻolawe, our focus is to entice Lono to stay on Kaho‘olawe during the Makahiki season by way of his kinolau, or his many body forms such as misty rains, morning dew, cloud cover, and the like. We call upon his kinolau that will re-green Kaho‘olawe.
Welehu 2017 marks 37 consistent years of Makahiki ceremonies. Dr. Tengan, under the leadership of ʻŌlohe ʻUmi Kai, holds Makahiki in Palalupe to empower Kanaka Maoli identity. Kameha‘ikū and Wali Camvel run their Makahiki on Mōkapu to honor their traditional connection to that area as well as forge access rights on the marine base. Makahiki practice on Kahoʻolawe is also the reason why we were granted access to the island and ultimately stopped the bombing. Stay tuned for more installments on Makahiki during this season.