The traditional Polynesian sports include stone lifting, javelin throwing, fruit carrier races, coconut tree climbing and va’a races. Most of them are far less easy than they look. Give them a try and see for yourself!
The Tahitian name for traditional Polynesian sports is Tū’aro Mā’ohi. and they are another part of the ancestral culture of The Islands of Tahiti that you can discover during your visit. Try your hand at some of them, they’re nowhere near as easy as they first look. Stone lifting, as the name indicates, involves raising a stone that can weigh as much as 350lbs from the ground up onto your shoulder. Javelin throwers have to stick their javelin in a coconut on a pole about 10 meters above the ground. Fruit carriers race over a distance of slightly more than one kilometer with up to 50kg of fruit on their shoulder. These and other traditional sports are part of the annual Heiva Tu’aro Maohi sports festival held in Tahiti in July.
Sports still practiced in Tahiti
Traditional sports are a popular part of the thriving maohi culture in The Islands of Tahiti. More than 700 Polynesians from all over the five archipelagos are licensed to participate in this annual, traditional sports festival during the Heiva. In Anaa, one of the Tuamotu Islands, all the young men learn how to throw the javelin. It’s a sport that requires good technique and excellent hand to eye coordination, because the thrower has to make his javelin stick in a coconut at the top of a 10 meter pole. The stone lifting champions often originate from Rurutu in the Austral Islands. Some of the men can lift a 350lb stone up onto their shoulder in a matter of seconds.
Coconut tree climbing, husking coconuts, fruit carrier races, traditional wrestling and outrigger canoe sailing races are also part of the traditional sports festival. Coconut tree climbing isn’t as easy as it looks, and husking coconuts is an extremely tiring task. Try it! You’ll be able to test yourself at most of these sports during your vacation, especially if you attend the Tu’aro Ma’ohi festival in July. The local population will be delighted to see you try, and they’ll be even more delighted if you perform well!
Other Polynesian traditions
A unique Polynesian festival is held in the Austral Island of Rurutu to ring in the new year. The entire island takes part in the Tere a’ati, a procession on foot, by bike or on horseback, that visits every single house on the island. Many other islands also have their very own traditions and customs, songs and dances. These traditions are all part of the Polynesian culture that will make your vacation in The Islands of Tahiti an unforgettable and truly authentic experience.