Hale Motuapuaka of Aiea Crowned World’s Hottest Winner at 26th Annual World Fireknife Championship

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The three-day World Fireknife Championship held by the Polynesian Cultural Center began with the opening round on May 10, featuring 19 top fireknife dancers from Samoa, Japan, Tahiti, California, Florida and Hawaii competing in the elite Senior Division to determine this year’s best-of-the-best.

“Year-after-year we are wowed by the caliber of competition and it’s a credit to the thousands of hours they put into refining their craft and preparing for this championship,” said Eric Workman, Executive Vice President of the Polynesian Cultural Center.

This past weekend, a new warrior was crowned the 2018 World Fireknife Champion. Hale Motuapuaka of Aiea, Hawaii out-performed competitors Matsushima Yuya of Fukushima-Pref, Japan who placed second and former champion, Joseph Cadousteau of Papeete, Tahiti, who came in third in the final round of the competition.

Motuapuaka started fireknife dancing at three-years-old and began competing as an exhibitor at the Polynesian Cultural Center’s World Fireknife Championships at four-years-old. He has since won multiple titles in the Intermediate Division (ages 12-17). As a graduating senior at Punahou School, Motuapuaka will be attending Utah State University in the fall on a football scholarship. The Utah State Aggies compete in the Mountain West Conference of the Football Bowl Subdivision of NCAA Division I.

“As a junior and intermediate competitor, I remember watching the World Fireknife Championship competition and being in awe of the competitors’ skills,” said Hale Motuapuaka. “Being the 2018 World Fireknife Champion has been a dream and I’m thankful for all of the support from my family, friends and coaches throughout my fireknife dancing career. I am blessed to have come so far.”

Wearing a traditional lavalava and energized by the pulsating beat of 11 Polynesian drummers and roars of the crowd, the three finalists gave a phenomenal performance that was original and creative, while showcasing the elite expertise needed to compete for the world championship.

A panel of six judges, highly esteemed in the fireknife community, scored contestants’ performances on overall speed, height of each throw, degree of difficulty, routine choreography, and their unique warrior-like presence.

“Year-after-year we are wowed by the caliber of competition and it’s a credit to the thousands of hours they put into refining their craft and preparing for this championship,” said Eric Workman, Executive Vice President of the Polynesian Cultural Center. “We thank all the competitors for how they are elevating public awareness about the artistry of this Samoan cultural tradition.”

Fireknife dancing draws its roots from the Samoan ailao, a warrior’s knife dance, performed before battle with the nifo oti, or “tooth of death.” Now in its 26th year, the World Fireknife Championship was established by the Polynesian Culture Center to showcase this proud Samoan tradition and perpetuate it for future generations to embrace.

The three-day World Fireknife Championship began with the opening round on May 10, featuring 19 top fireknife dancers from Samoa, Japan, Tahiti, California, Florida and Hawaii competing in the elite Senior Division to determine this year’s best-of-the-best.

Six competitors advanced to the semi-finals on May 11, from which three finalists performed their best routines seeking the World Fireknife Championship for 2018.

The World Fireknife Championship is the main attraction of the Polynesian Cultural Center’s We Are Samoa Festival, Hawaii’s largest annual Samoan cultural celebration.

For more information about the World Fireknife Championships, visit http://www.worldfireknife.com.

For information or to make reservations, please visit http://www.polynesia.com or call (800) 367-7060. In Hawaii, call (808) 293-3333.

Link to B-Roll: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/pjbbm0ou1ekhss8/AAA7HAX9uQ7WiGnFU7QwTmVpa?dl=0
Link to Images: https://spaces.hightail.com/receive/CSmySpYwBj

ABOUT THE POLYNESIAN CULTURAL CENTER
Located on Oahu’s beautiful North Shore, the Polynesian Cultural Center is the only cultural tourist attraction of its kind in the world and a favorite of all visitors to Hawaii. An engaging, interactive celebration showcasing the people, culture, arts and crafts of Polynesia, the Polynesian Cultural Center has entertained millions of visitors from around the world since opening in 1963. A non-profit organization, 100 percent of its revenue goes to daily operations and to support the education of its student-employees from neighboring Brigham Young University-Hawaii. For more information, visit http://www.polynesia.com.

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Julie Tabarejo
Anthology Marketing Group
(808) 539-3409
Julie.Tabarejo(at)anthologygroup(dot)com

Samantha Tsui
Anthology Marketing Group
(808) 539-3440
Samantha.Tsui(at)anthologygroup(dot)com

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Julie Tabarejo
Anthology Marketing Group
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