In ancient Hawaii, the Makahiki Season was a celebration of abundance of land and sea and the accomplishments of the Hawaiian People. It was the time for healing, new growth, a time of peace and spiritual cleansing of the Hawaiian mind, soul and heart, in celebration of life. It is also, a time when the Makaainana (commoners) would honor Lono, their God of agriculture.
It is also the traditional Hawaiian celebration of harvest, a time of personal rest, and a renewal of spirituality and culture. Back then, wars were forbidden, high ranking chiefs and commoners came together in games that displayed strength and intelligence, and everyone paid tribute to the alii nui or King.
Families in the different villages planned all year to pay out their taxes to the alii nui. Food items from the farmers and fishermen, feather work, weapons, kapa, pahu drums, hula implements, and many other na mea makamae, or treasurers, were prepared for collection by the konohiki or land manager, on behalf of the king.
Why is it important?
In keeping with our Pookela (Excellence) mission, we celebrate as our ancient Hawaiians did. We are indeed blessed to have the opportunity to malama (care) for the things that are Hawaiian. As keepers of the culture, we delve below the surface of ohana (family) and Hawaiian values. Our Makahiki kuleana (responsibility) traces the steps of the ancient ones from the past to this present time. We reflect upon the huna (secrets) possessed by our kupuna kahiko, our ancestors.
Kaanapali Beach Hotel and Makahiki
The employees of Kaanapali Beach Hotel celebrate the Makahiki season by challenging themselves to make traditional items that our Hawaiian ancestors used within the period of the rising and setting of the Pleiades constellation, approximately four months between November and February. Living the host culture to the fullest means observing Makahiki as a season, a time to create or give the finest of foods, implements, tools, weapons, or adornments befitting of a king.
During Makahiki, each hotel department is challenged to do their best to craft treasured items, na mea makamae, with the intent to always strive to be better, to be pookela. Projects include using feathers to create lei and kahili, gourds for making musical instruments and containers, carving wood and bone into drums, poi boards and fishhooks, weaving fishnets and twisting coconut fibers into sennit. Mats are woven using hala leaves, and koi, ulu maika, kui poi, kukui hele po, papa mu are made out of stone. In the first two years, more than 200 items were crafted using a Criteria Guideline to regulate the balance of utilizing modern and ancient techniques and materials. These na mea makamae are proudly displayed in the hotel’s lobby and in our na mea makamae museum.
For this year’s Makahiki season, hotel employees together united their efforts to create a Hawaiian outrigger canoe. The canoe (ka waa) was chosen because it represents responsibility, leadership and a connection to the past. The waa is a means of taking us from one point to another. As our kupuna guide us through life values passed down from generation to generation, this connection helps us to live and thrive in our culture of today. Click here to read more about the launching of our waa, named Kaililaau.
Our hope for this challenge is to be more successful for the sake of our owners and employees, to be a place for guests to experience the Hawaii that they imagine, and to continue to preserve and perpetuate the Hawaiian culture through our actions.
In addition to learning about the host culture, employees gain camaraderie, respect and showcase their excellence in craftsmanship that fortifies the value of ho‘ohana, working with intent and purpose. The observance of Makahiki will continue to challenge employees to do their best in crafting the various treasured items of native Hawaiian culture.