First anokoa take on challenge at Molokaʻi Makahiki

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Photo by Shayna Ho

Manaloa Aikala throws the spear as he competes in ‘ō‘o ihe at Nā Molokaʻi Makahiki on Friday, January 25. Aikala is the first male anokoa to represent Kamehameha Maui at the games.

By Shayna Ho, staff writer

The Hawaiian 4 class was well represented with a third-place finish by both their kāne a me wahine anokoa or male and female champions, who competed against four other anokoa from various schools at Nā’iwa, Moloka’i on Friday, January 25 for the 32nd annual Kā Moloka’i Makahiki.

Being the anokoa is a privilege, which means one is representing his or her entire district or ‘ahupua’a. In contrast to other competitors who might compete in a single event, the anokoa must have skill in all of the Makahiki games.

The anakoa competes in 10 events:
‘ō‘o ihe or spear throwing,
‘ulu maika, a type of bowling game,
kōnane or checkers,
pā ‘uma, standing arm wrestling,
‘uma, arm wrestling,
haka moa or “chicken fighting,” a standing, one-legged wrestling game,
pōhaku ho’oikaika, which is similar to shot put,
hukikahi, a tug-of-war on a lifted foundation,
heihei wāwae or 100-meter dash,
and kūkine or 400-meter run.

This year, Kamehameha Schools Maui High School was represented by Renee “Kalena” Lee-Acgoili and Manaloa Aikala.

“It [being the anokoa] was a really great experience because it’s something that the ancient Hawaiians did back in the day where they had one person, the best of the best, and it was really cool because I got to be that person. So I felt really honored to be able to perpetuate that aspect of Makahiki,” Lee-Acgoili said.

Kalena and Manaloa competed against anokoas from Kanu o Ka ‘Aina on Hawai’i island, Moloka’i High, Hana High, and Lahaina Luna.

Still recovering from a soccer-season knee injury, Lee-Acgoili placed third in pā ‘uma and kōnane. She came in second for ‘ō‘o ihe, ‘ulu maika, hukikahi and haka moa, an event she had been dreading.

“My favorite game was the haka moa…because that was the one game going into [Makahiki] that I was scared of doing because of my injured knee. But then, when I did it and I found out I could do it, it was awesome,” she said.

Aikala had a different challenge to face.

“My biggest challenge of being the anokoa was the last-minute notice. I was only aware that I was anokoa two days before we left for Moloka’i, but I did go, and I charged,” he said.

He placed first in kōnane, second in ‘ō‘o ihe and hukikahi, and third in ‘ulu maika, pā ‘uma, haka moa, pōhaku ho’oikaika and kūkini.

Their victories as Kamehameha Maui’s first anokoa were encouraging and inspirational.

“Given the sickness of the group [many of whom became ill upon returning home] and Kalena [Lee-Agcoili] having problems with her knee and having to overcome that, both she and Mana gave their all and they had a good showing…I like that they gave their fullest efforts,” said Kumu Kalei A’arona-Lorenzo, Hawaiian 4 language teacher and trip organizer.

The first place anokoa were Apelila Ritte-Camara-Tangonan from Molokaʻi High School and Charles Pasigan of Hana ʻOhana.

Read Landon Ballesteros’ coverage of the weekend as a whole by clicking here.