Each summer, the mission of the Hawaii VA Games begins anew. Directors, athletes, teams, sponsors, media, promotion, travel, planning, coordination, organization, and preparation – these elements create the palpable excitement surrounding the kickoff of the 2014 Hawaii VA Games.

When it all comes together on September 1st at the Neal S. Blaisdell Arena, spectators will witness the beginning of a new era for the Games; the contests will be fiercer, a new milestone will be reached in the amount of funds raised, and the recently developed Hawaii VA Foundation will distribute the money to two exceptional nonprofit organizations that impact the lives of Hawaii’s people.

After careful consideration, the Hawaii VA Foundation is proud to announce the final of two selected nonprofit organizations to receive a grant at the 2014 Hawaii VA Games: Pūkoʻa Kani ʻĀina.


The Pūkoʻa Kani ʻĀina mission is “to provide educational and socioeconomic opportunities for Hawaiians and their communities in order to achieve empowered, healthy and sustainable lifestyles.”

One of the many ways Pūkoʻa Kani ʻĀina strives to carry out their mission is through the observance of the traditional Makahiki season. For ten years, they have successfully carried out the program on the Big Island and will now bring it to the island of Oahu.

What is behind the tradition of the Makahiki season? Author Teya Penniman for Maui Magazine, writes that it is far more than rituals lasting over several days:

“For a full four months, the practices of Makahiki in pre-Contact Hawaii touched the life of every islander, helped manage and distribute the bounty of land and sea, and mandated a prolonged period of peace and festivities. As the Pleiades began their arc across the sky, priests closed the temples associated with Ku, the god of war, farming and fishing. Bloodshed and many forms of manual labor came to a halt. Commoners and chiefs shifted their focus to Lono, honoring his power to ensure future crops.”

Therefore, using ancient Hawaiian cultural practices as the primary inclusive tool,  Pūkoʻa Kani ʻĀina engages in activities with the primary goals of strengthening families and encouraging increased engagement with physical education, health, fitness, and honest competition.

Pūkoʻa Kani ʻĀina’s Administrative Manager, ʻEkela Kahuanui, gives us insight into the games and competition that are part of Makahiki:

“From keiki to kūpuna each participant can challenge themselves in various games of skill, which are; ulu maika (stone rolling); moa paheʻe (dart sliding); kōnane (Hawaiian checkers); ʻōʻō ihe (spear throwing); kūkini (50/100 yd sprint) and huki papa (tug of war while balancing on a raised board). Some games of strength are; hukihuki (tug of war 6 vs 6); hukikahi (tug of war 1 vs 1); uma (arm wrestling); pa uma (standing arm wrestling); hakamoa (chicken fight); and pōhaku hoʻoikaika (stone toss). Core Hawaiian values like aloha, mahalo, mālama, kōkua, will permeate the air and guide our interactions on and off the playing field.”

How will the Hawaii VA Foundation’s grant be utilized by Pūkoʻa Kani ʻĀina?

“This grant will help further our mission enabling our programs to make a deeper impact within our communities,” says Kahuanui.

What was the organization’s reaction upon hearing they would receive a grant at the 2014 Hawaii VA Games?

“Uihā! was my first reaction. Pure joy! I immediately started thinking of how we could make our program even better. Mahalo ke akua!” Kahuanui exclaims.

The Hawaii VA Foundation has raised over $35,000 and is excited to present Pūkoʻa Kani ʻĀina with one of the two grants totaling over $14,000 at the conclusion of the 2014 Hawaii VA Games. Over the course of the next year, the Hawaii VA Foundation will follow the use of Pūkoʻa Kani ʻĀina’s awarded funds (as well as recipient #1, Valley of Rainbow’s progress), and allow the public to decide which beneficiary will receive the remaining $7,000 toward their programs.

For tickets to attend the Games, visit the Blaisdell Center box office when it opens at 7:30am. The event starts at 9am. To stay updated on Pūkoʻa Kani ʻĀina and the work they do, visit their website or contact them below:

Pūkoʻa Kani ʻĀina
PO Box 437231
Kamuela , HI 96743