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Hawaiian Olympics at Franklin’s Luau

This image depicts two men taking part in the Haka Moa Chicken Fight, a traditional Hawaiian game that will be taking place at Franklin’s Luau. Image courtesy of Creative Commons.

A Hawaiian Luau is coming to Franklin on May 27. Greg Garcia, our beloved Advanced Placement Psychology and United States History teacher, is planning and hosting the Luau here on campus on Friday, May 27 after school. All members of the Franklin community are welcome; past, present, and future. The event is free, and will include a variety of traditional Hawaiian games, which are described below. Along with the games, there will be food from Noho’s Hawaiian Cafe, and the opportunity to try other traditional foods like Poi, which is a treat made from lightly processed taro root. Lastly, the Luau will include storytelling of Hawaiian mythologies and oral history. Below are individual descriptions of the games that will be included in this year’s Luau:

Ulu Maika: The Stone Disc Game

Ulu Maika is “where you take a stone and you roll it on its side […], your goal is to get it through a pair of goalposts [that are] traditionally about 40 yards away […] it is extremely difficult to do so,” according to Garcia. At the Luau, the game will be slightly modified so that there are several goalposts about 10 yards apart to make it more fun and accessible. The more goalposts someone can get the stone disc through, the more points they earn. 

Haka Moa: Chicken Fight

Haka Moa is a two-person game in which each opponent is holding one bent leg behind themselves, and balancing on the remaining leg. Garcia describes it as: “You[‘re in] a ring and you’re holding your opponent by the wrist and they hold yours […] and you try to push the other person down or push them out of the ring.” The unique look of the game gives it the name ‘Chicken Fight’. Garcia notes that this is the usual fan-favorite at the Luau, and often produces hilarious results. 

Hawaiian Sling

The Hawaiian Sling is a long spear-like rod (similar to a javelin) with a loop of elastic rubber attached to one end to help propel it forward. You loop the bungee around the thumb of your dominant hand and aim with the other arm. After pulling the bungee tight, you let go and release the tension, which is what launches the rod forward and upward (depending on where it was aimed). The objective is to get the rod to travel as far as physically possible from where you stand. Traditionally, this technique is utilized while in the water for the purpose of spear-fishing before it evolved into a game on land.

Pa Uma: Hawaiian Arm Wrestling

Pa Uma is almost identical to traditional arm wrestling you might have seen or done, with one twist: opponents are laying with their stomachs to the ground “so [they] can’t use [their] body for leverage,” Garcia explains. Apart from that, the regular rules for arm wrestling apply– a simple test of strength.

Kukuni: Foot Race

Traditionally, there would be designated runners on the islands to deliver messages who were highly trained and incredibly fast, according to the University of Hawaii, Hilo. Before cars and bikes and other mechanical modes of transportation, these messengers were a very important part of society and were widely respected. For the purposes of the games, the foot race is a there-and-back race against an opponent, measuring which person is faster. 

Konane: Hawaiian Checkers

Although this is an activity of the mind rather than the body, it is similar to the other activities in its competitive nature. Garcia says it is “Hawaii’s answer to checkers” and uses a board similar to a chess or checker board you might be familiar with, with alternative rules. You can learn how to play at the Luau, along with the physical games. 

Now, hearing about these games is one thing, but if you’re reading this you can come and play too! Anyone who is a past, present, or current member of the Franklin community is welcome (your family too). One more time, the Luau is Friday, May 27 after school hours. Garcia and the planning committee hope to see you there to share in the games, food, and fun!

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