Senior PCC World Fireknife Championship finalists, junior winners announced

May 9, 2013 – After four hours of heated competition at the 21st Annual World Fireknife Championships, the Polynesian Cultural Center has declared the winning competitors of the Junior and Group divisions, with two days of fiery competition remaining to determine this year’s senior World Fireknife Champion.

Following the completion of Thursday’s semi-final competition, three finalists have emerged:


Joseph Cadousteau of Papeete, Tahiti (center, front)
Malo “Mj” Mata’u of Laie (left, front); and
Mikaele Oloa of Waialua (originally from Orlando, FL; right, front).

In the Junior Pacific and Group Division, warriors as young as age six took to the stage to showcase their fiery talents and unwavering bravery. The winners are are:

Junior Pacific Division

achilles_tafitiAges 12-17:
1st. Achilles Tafiti, Laie (pictured at right)
2nd. Hale Motu’apuaka, Aiea
3rd. Wallen Te’o, Honolulu

Ages 6-11:
1st. Dayton Daoang, Waipahu
2nd. Aaliyah Ava, Laie
3rd. Chandae Ava, Laie

Open Group Competition

1st. KJ Ahloy, Quest Ava, Malik Ava, Alex Galea’i
2nd. Aaliyah Ava, Chandae Ava, Jeralee Gale’ai

“It has been an honor and a privilege to have hosted the World Fireknife Championship for over two decades here at the Polynesian Cultural Center,” said PCC’s Chief Operating Officer Leilua Logoitino Apelu.

“Each year the competition draws the most talented fireknife dancers from around the globe. The dedication and passion shown to mastering this artful sport never ceases to amaze me. Since its inception in 1993, the competition has grown immensely popular among both kama’āina (Hawai’i residents) and visitors alike, and we are excited to share our culture with the world by offering a live stream available on any computer or mobile device at”

World Championship Finals
Continue on Friday and Saturday

The World Fireknife Championship will conclude with a fiery two-night final on Friday and Saturday in the 2,675-seat Pacific Theater, during the intermission of the Hā: Breath of Life evening show, providing added spectacle to an already visually and culturally dynamic experience.

Participate in the People’s Choice Award: Immediately after the first night of finals on Friday, May 10, fans can vote online for their favorite competitor in the “People’s Choice Award.” Voting opens at 9 p.m. (HST) on Friday night and closes at 8:45 p.m. (HST) Saturday evening. The winner will be announced at the victory ceremony that night.

To view the live stream and to vote, visit

Competitors for the championship are judged on movements including the vili tasi (one hand spin) and vili lua (two hand spin), among others. Specific criteria included height of throws, speed, showmanship and more. A full list of routine requirements and judging criteria can be found in the “Judging” tab of The “People’s Choice Award” will not be based on the same criteria and is awarded purely on fan voting.

The modern fireknife dance stems from the Samoan ailao, a warrior’s knife dance performed with the nifo oti, or “tooth of death.” This dance was displayed before battle to frighten the enemy and, afterwards, to celebrate victory. The art of fireknife dancing has grown to become one of the most intense, skillful and beautiful of Samoan traditions.

The modern version consists of spinning a sharp knife with both ends ablaze at alarmingly high speeds, and requires acute precision and acrobatic finesse. The fire is 100 percent real, and in the spirit of showmanship, dancers often intentionally make contact with the flames.

In addition to the fireknife competitions, the Pacific Theater will also serve as a venue for the annual We Are Samoa, High School Samoan Cultural Arts Festival, where Hawai’i high school students will demonstrate their own cultural knowledge of Samoan traditions with exhibitions in basket weaving, coconut husking and fire making, among other events.

The festival will be held only on Saturday, May 11, 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., prior to the World Fireknife Championships face-off that evening, and will also be streamed live online at

To join in on the final two nights of competition, May 10 and 11, guests must purchase a reserved seating ticket, starting at $45, to the Hā: Breath of Life evening show each night. Advanced reservations are highly recommended as the event sells out every year. Kama’āina Annual Pass holders and full-day ticket holders receive free admission to the Samoan Cultural High School Arts Festival on Saturday morning.

For more information or to make reservations, visit, or call the PCC ticket office at (800) 367-7060 or on O’ahu, call (808) 293-3333.


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