Sunday | September 25, 2016
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Kokua Way: Kohala team shines at makahiki games in Waimea

Kohala’s first team competed in the 2014 Ka Moku O Keawe Makahiki at Waimea Middle School in January.

Just past sunrise on Jan. 11, Kohala’s first-ever group of middle school competitors joined other students from across the island to participate in Ka Moku O Keawe Makahiki in Waimea.

The annual event includes Hawaii Island Makahiki games championships, a wellness and culture tent, and healthy food booths. These traditional Hawaiian games provide a fun way for youth to perpetuate Hawaiian culture while enhancing body, mind and spirit.

The team, made up of 10 students and four adults, was surprised they could see their frosty breaths as they stood quietly together during the opening protocol, waiting to present their team and share their oli.

Led by eighth-grader Alaka‘i Zazttaney Matsu, the entire group chanted with pride, knowing they were the first team to represent their home district at this seasonal event.

Other participants from Kohala Middle School included sixth-graders Mehana Amina, Ashanti Coroton, Brianna Wehi Ryder and Sierra Shaw; seventh-graders Kelii Moku Maikui and Sakura Remsen; and eighth-graders Johnette Emeliano, Angel Ramos and Jeshua Shaw. This was a group of “Na I‘o ‘o Kohala (Hawks of Kohala), following in the traditions of our ancestors,” Jeshua Shaw said.

As the sun warmed the kahua le‘a (playing field), so did the competitive spirit of the students who were each entered in three or four events, including both games of skill and games of strength. From konane, a form of checkers, to uma, arm wrestling in the prone position, Kohala’s small but mighty home team did very well.

Unofficial scores available at the KMN deadline date showed Kohala students winning four first places, six second places, four third places, an one fourth place in three divisions (sixth-grade female or male; seventh or eighth females; seventh or eighth males).

Student reflections shared many positive thoughts about this experience.

“The best part of Makahiki was seeing everyone having fun and having the best experience with other schools,” Zaz Matsu said.

“Go try it out. It was really fun and a good experience,” said Angel Ramos, encouraging other students.

Caylah Carvalho, who came to support her friends, said, “I feel that everyone gave their 110 percent and tried their best!”

The teachers agree!

Participation in this special event was made possible due to Kohala teachers Chris Michaelis and Drew Henderson and behavioral health specialist Kevin Cochran, who accompanied the students.

The Growing Pono Schools Project’s Randee Golden, who is working on a grant to promote culture-based education, provided food and moral support. The school has been holding Makahiki competitions between their Advisory Hale (Houses) for the past three years.

Mahalo nui loa to Moku o Keawe Makahiki event coordinator Keala Kahuanui and the multitude of volunteers who helped run these games. Hundreds of students were able to enjoy friendly competition, meet new people, and experience the spirit of aloha, kokua, malama, and mahalo at its very best!


Waimea Elementary School will be hosting a kindergarten open house on Wednesday. Any parents with children whose birthdays are between Aug. 1, 2008, and July 31, 2009, are invited to come learn about the registration process and how to prepare children for kindergarten success. Keiki are welcome to join. A light dinner will be served. RSVP by calling the school at 887-7636, ext. 272, before Monday.


Special Local Film is back by popular request. “Hawaiian Starlight” will play at 6 p.m. tonight at the Honokaa People’s Theatre. The show is free. This film delivers a pure esthetic journey from Mauna Kea into the universe. Twelve years in the making, this cinematic symphony reveals the spectacular beauty of the mountain and its connection to the cosmos through the magical influence of time-lapse cinematography and stunning true color images captured on the mountain. Scored with the critically acclaimed Halo music by Martin O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori and free of computer generated imagery and narration, “Hawaiian Starlight” is an immersion experience into the beauty of Mauna Kea and the endless wonder of outer space.


Leche De Tigre will perform Saturday, Feb. 15, at the People’s Theatre. Remember Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14 and continue milking your Valentine’s Day love hangover.

On Saturday, Feb. 15, at 6 p.m. the band of Tigres will bring Latin gypsy Ffunk back to the Honokaa People’s Theatre. Bring your moves, bring the excitement and bring the Love to the fabulous Honokaa Peoples Theatre dance floor.

A blend of musical styles referred to as “Latin gypsy funk,” often laced with rock influences, is characteristic of Leche De Tigre. The band’s sound relies on percussive grooves and the melodic impact of acoustic guitars to engage the audience, beckoning dancers and listeners of all ages and backgrounds. Nylon string guitars, drums, bass, cello, latin percussion, trumpet and vocals compose the group, started in 2009 in Kona.

Doors open at 6 p.m. and show begins at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 door or visit

Carol Yurth’s column is published every Sunday and spotlights activities on the Hilo-Hamakua coast. She welcomes items for her column. Reach her by mail (46-1250 Kalehua Road, Honokaa HI 96727) at least 10 days before the requested publication date, call her at 775-7101, or e-mail


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