Hawaiian Foot Racing

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14. Hei-hei-ku-ki-ni - Foot Racing

Foot Racing

[Page 210] A dozen or more men will race for a prize, a favorite holiday amusement, the stake being a pig, cocoanuts, or bread-fruit. The course is usually one-half to three-quarters of a mile. The starting point is called pa-hu-ku, and the goal pa-hu-ho-pu. The runners, ku-ki-ni, are entirely naked except for a breechclout. Ku-ki-ni means "runner."  The ku-ki-ni was formerly a government officer, whose duty it was to [Page 211] carry orders to different parts of the island, and such were held in estimation according to their fleetness1. In his journal of Cook's voyage to the Pacific ocean2, Captain King, speaking of the Hawaiians, says: "They frequently amuse themselves with racing matches between the boys and girls; and here again they wager with great spirit."

Ellis3 describes the foot-race of Tahiti under the name of faatitiaihe-moraa: "Young men of the opposite parties engaged. Great preparations were made for this trial of strength and agility. The bodies of the runners were anointed with oil; the maro, or girdle, their only garment, was bound tight round the loins. A wreath of flowers adorned the brows, and a light white or colored bandage of native cloth was sometimes bound like a turban round the head. A smooth line of sandy beach was usually selected for the course. Sometimes they returned to the place from which they started, but in general they ran the prescribed distance in a straight line."

Notes: 1. Andrews, Hawaiian Dictionary. 2. Vol. III, p. 145. 3. Vol. I, p. 210

15. Hei-hei-haa-we - Burden Racing

[Page 211] This is a contest in which each of the participants carries another astride his neck.

16. Hei-hei-e-ke - Sack Racing

[Page 211] Eight men usually race, starting from a line, running to a goal and back to the line.

19. Hei-hei-hu-i-la-ba-la-la - Wheelbarrow Racing

[Page 211] This is a sport of recent introduction.

Last update February 3, 2010