The Heiva Festival: A Day of Traditional Polynesian Sports and Games
July 14 was not only Bastille
Day but also the day for the main sporting events of the festival at the
National Museum of Tahiti some 9 km away from Papeete. The busses
weren’t running as it was a public holiday, but cruisers got together and
arranged taxis to the games and enjoyed a great day out.
Javelin Competition: This competition involved throwing a javelin
underarm at a coconut which was fixed on a pole 9.5 metres high from a distance
of 22 metres (for the women’s and children’s event the height of
the coconut was 6 metres and the throwing range 15 metres). Points were
scored depending on where the javelin stuck in to the coconut. We were
amazed at the accuracy of the throwing as the vast majority of javelins were
very close to the target.
The Stripping of Coconuts: The task here was for competitors to strip 15
coconuts with a wooden stake fixed in to the ground and the person who finished
first was the winner. This year the sole lady competitor was the winner.
The Copra Contest: This involved cutting open, prising out the flesh
and bagging up 150 coconuts in as fast a time as possible. Having battled
many times to open coconuts, we were totally amazed at the speed and dexterity
of the contestants.
The Stone Lifting Contest: There were a number of weight categories, the
heaviest stone being 150 kg, and competitors had to lift the stone from the
ground to shoulder height and holding it stable for several seconds. This
sport is from old traditions originating in the Austral Islands. In
ancient times, warriors measured their strength by lifting stones coated with
monoi. The winner became a contender to becoming the next chief.
Mid-way through the day there
was a break in proceedings for a display by the Marquesan Group we’d seen
a few days earlier: