The Heiva Festival: A Day of Traditional Polynesian Sports and Games

Mark & Sue Owen
Tue 4 Aug 2015 11:16

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.


m_Papeete Heiva 408.jpg  m_Papeete Heiva 398.jpg


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.


m_Papeete Heiva 462.jpg 

m_Papeete Heiva 385.jpg  m_Papeete Heiva 512.jpg  m_Papeete Heiva 515.jpg

m_Papeete Heiva 492.jpg 

m_Papeete Heiva 716.jpg 

m_Papeete Heiva 709.jpg  m_Papeete Heiva 501.jpg  m_Papeete Heiva 719.jpg


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.


m_Papeete Heiva 425.jpg  m_Papeete Heiva 426.jpgm_Papeete Heiva 423.jpg  m_Papeete Heiva 437.jpg  m_Papeete Heiva 439.jpg 


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.


m_Papeete Heiva 856.jpg 

m_Papeete Heiva 861.jpg  m_Papeete Heiva 872.jpg

m_Papeete Heiva 873.jpg  m_Papeete Heiva 887.jpg  m_Papeete Heiva 911.jpg


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.


m_Papeete Heiva 741.jpg  m_Papeete Heiva 777.jpg  m_Papeete Heiva 769.jpg

m_Papeete Heiva 732.jpg  m_Papeete Heiva 733.jpg  m_Papeete Heiva 734.jpg

m_Papeete Heiva 736.jpg  m_Papeete Heiva 807.jpg  m_Papeete Heiva 808.jpg

m_Papeete Heiva 774.jpg  m_Papeete Heiva 775.jpg  m_Papeete Heiva 776.jpg    


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:


m_Papeete Heiva 603.jpg  m_Papeete Heiva 560.jpg

m_Papeete Heiva 539.jpg  m_Papeete Heiva 544.jpg  m_Papeete Heiva 662.jpg

m_Papeete Heiva 637.jpg  m_Papeete Heiva 693.jpg  m_Papeete Heiva 699.jpg