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2024 World Fireknife Champion named

Tafili Galea'i, Fumiya Matashima, Jacktai Laban
reporters@samoanews.com

La'ie, HAWAII — The World Fireknife Championships held at the Polynesian Cultural Center opened last week Wednesday night with 32 contestants.

Concluding its 31st year, the World Fireknife Championship was established by the Polynesian Cultural Center in 1993 to showcase this proud Sāmoan tradition and encourage future generations to perpetuate this amazing combination of artistry, skill, and bravery.

Crowned 2024 Fireknife champion, Tafili Galea'i from La'ie, Hawaii competed against Fumiya Matashima (2nd place) of Fukushima, Japan and Jacktai Laban (3rd place) of Apia, Samoa. He won the elite Men's Division of the World Fireknife Championships held at the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC).

Galea'i's victory concluded the four-day We Are Samoa Festival. As Hawai'i's largest annual Sāmoan cultural celebration, the festival featured four divisions of fireknife competitions, We Are Samoa High School Arts Festival and daily exhibits of Sāmoan culture and artwork throughout the Polynesian Cultural Center.

 

Fire-knife dancing is rooted in the Sāmoan ailao, a warrior knife dance traditionally performed before battle utilizing the nifo oti, or "tooth of death."

This year's World Fireknife Championship featured competitions in four divisions. In addition to Galea'i winning the Men's Division, Aliyah Galea'i-Ava of Lā'ie, HI won the Women's Division, Haukea Moua of Punaauia, Tahiti won the Intermediate Division (ages 12-17) and Manasseh Tuliloa of Lā'ie, HI won the Junior Division (ages 6-11).