Hawaiian 4 brings six Kā Molokaʻi Makahiki champions

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Photo by Landon Ballesteros

Senior Maleko Lorenzo competes in the haka moa at Kā Molokaʻi Makahiki 2013 at Nāʻiwa, Molokaʻi on January 25.

Landon Ballesteros

By Landon Ballesteros, news writer

Seventeen students of the Kamehameha Schools Maui Hawaiian 4 class went to Molokaʻi to compete in the 32nd annual Kā Molokaʻi Makahiki event at Nāʻiwa grounds and the Kaunakakai ballpark on January 25 and 26. The KS Maui high school group took six first-place awards.

Kumu Kalei ʻAʻarona-Lorenzo tried something new this year, which was having the students participate in the opening ceremony with traditional Hawaiian clothing; the boys in malo and the girls in pāʻū. The students performed two chants, and the boys performed a haʻa for Kamapuaʻa and Lono.

The preliminary games for the high school and middle school divisions were held at Nāʻiwa grounds where the students from all the schools competed against each other to earn a place in the top two, who went to the finals.

(Read Shayna Ho’s coverage of the anokoa competition on Friday by clicking here.)

Several people went through to the finals, including Iwalani Kaʻaʻa for Pōhaku Hoʻoikaika (rock-throwing), Tehani Kama and myself for ʻulu maika (Hawaiian bowling), and Kamana Haupu and Kaʻaʻa for uma (hand-wrestling).

Though the competitive field for uma was fairly small, Kaʻaʻa didn’t hold back. Her experience made her a tough competitor.

“There were only two other competitors; one from Lāhainaluna and one from Hāna,” Kaʻaʻa said. “The Hāna girl was really difficult.”

In comparison to the 2012 Makahiki, Kumu ʻAʻarona-Lorenzo said she saw a large increase in students advancing to the finals and winning events.

“Pololū [Nākanelua] was the only one who won an individual event last year,” Kumu ‘Aʻarona-Lorenzo said. “There was also Ashley Wendt (KSM ’12) and Kalia [Tamashiro] who won the 400 [-meter race] for the girls.”

Last year’s Hoʻili Aho Loa (a relay where the swimmers must swim from one end of the pool to the other without coming up for breath) team won their division as well.

The finals on Saturday began with the water events. The KS Maui teams lost close races to the other teams, but emerged victorious in Kaupua, a game where a team of five dives for coins in 10 feet of water.

The running events also took place on this day, wherein Raven “Kaulele” Paresa-Neizman and Pono Freitas both took first-place honors in the Heihei Wāwae, a 100-meter sprint. Freitas stumbled at the beginning of the race, but got right back up and narrowly won. Kiana Antonio and Nākanelua represented KS Maui in Kūkini, the 400-meter sprint. Both took an impressive lead at the start of the race, but were closely beaten out at the finish line.

“I think the trip showed us how to deal with adversity,” Kumu ʻAʻarona-Lorenzo said. “People were forced to come out of their comfort zones, and they had to force themselves to perform at a higher level, just because they had to overcome sickness.”

Determined for redemption in a 400-meter event, KS Maui put in five of their fastest runners for the Hoʻoili Pōhaku, a relay in which five runners must run a 3-kilogram rock to each other. The entire race looked extremely close as the first four runners gave it their all running with the rock. Antonio passed the rock to Freitas, who made a spectacular run through the last leg of the relay.

“That was unreal,” Academies Principal Jay-R Kaʻawa said.

The top two contestants in each game faced off again to win the finals. Though a few of the finalists didn’t win, the KS Maui team saw several champions for the 2013 Makahiki.

Added to that, the students were able to exercise their cultural and language skills throughout the trip.

“I think that it made it more of a success than the competition factor,” Kumu ʻAʻarona-Lorenzo said.

As for the competition itself, KS Maui’s group took home first-place awards in six events:

Moa Pāheʻe (Kāne) – Kekoa Uyechi

Pōhaku Hoʻoikaika (Wahine) – Iwalani Kaʻaʻa

Heihei Wāwae (Kāne) – Pono Freitas

Heihei Wāwae (Wahine) – Raven Kaulele Paresa-Neizman

Hōʻili Pōhaku – Pono Freitas, Mana Aikala, Kalia Tamashiro, Raven Kaulele Paresa-Neizman, and Kiana Antonio

Kaupua – Kekoa Uyechi, Kalia Tamashiro, Kamakana Ballesteros, Tehani Kama, and Mana Aikala