Military, community strengthen partnerships at annual Makahiki

Story and photos by MC1 Corwin Colbert

Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

Makahiki is a Hawaiian festival to celebrate the bounty of the land and honor the traditional Hawaiian god Lono.

This year was the 16th annual Makahiki event that took place on Hickam Harbor Beach at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Nov. 18.

Service members and their families, along with the local community, gathered together to celebrate the relationship between the people of Hawaii and the military with a traditional Hawaiian blessing and tournament.

The purpose of the event was to bring the military and the Hawaiian communities together.

“What makes this day so special is we can bond by having a fun and educational day with the local Hawaiians and get to know each other,” said Jeff Pantelo, the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Hawaii archaeologist.

The event began with a traditional canoe paddle from Iroqouis Point to the beach. This transit represents an ancient ritual where the spirit of Lono, the guardian of health and peace as well as agriculture, arrives to the shoreline thereby commencing the festivities. The canoe pulled to the shore and was followed by a traditional Hawaiian welcoming ceremony, which included horn-blowing and chanting.

Rear Adm. Brian Fort, commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, provided opening remarks. He thanked the local community for getting together and sharing their traditions and customs with the service members and families in attendance. He also said the Navy and Hawaiians share interests in many things.

“Our Navy shares with the people of Hawaii the love of the sea, respect for nature and commitment to protect the environment and cultural resources,” Fort said.

Following the official ceremony, those in attendance were encouraged to participate in traditional Hawaiian games.

Musician 3rd Class Brenton Mitchell of Centreville, Maryland, a member of the U.S. Pacific Band, played Hawaiian music to entertain those in attendance.

This was his first time at this event and he said it was a great opportunity to see firsthand Hawaiian traditions and customs on display.

“This is my first Makahiki. It was a really cool and interesting event,” he said. “I don’t get to go to these cultural events as often as I would like. This is a real Hawaiian cultural event, not like the tourist events you see in town. They are wearing traditional clothing and doing a traditional prayer like their ancestors would,” Mitchell said.

“It was great to see the admiral here rekindling the bond the military has with the local Hawaiian community. We are on their lands and I am thankful for the welcoming and friendly gesture they have given us,” Mitchell added. “I think everyone should experience this whether you’re military or a civilian. I would recommend anyone to come out and be a part of this next year.”

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Category: Life & Leisure