He’e holua is the art of riding a sled down mountains. He’e holua is a traditional ancient Hawaiian sport to worship and honor Pele, The Goddess of The Volcano. Gliding down a volcano as lava flowing to the sea.
Native Hawaiians rode papa holua (sleds) down mountain paths of lava rock called kahua holua. Similar to wave riding, the papa holua (sleds) could be rode standing up, kneeling or lying down prone position.
The papa holua (Hawaiian sleds) were fabricated of native woods consisting of two hand rails, two bottom runners and numerous cross pieces to stablize the sled. the common Papa holua measured 12ft long, 6in wide and weighed around 50lbs.
The kahua holua (moutain path or course) was constructed of a lava rock base, with lava peebles and sand compacted on top.
In preparation pili grass would be layered over the kahua holua (path) and kukui oil rubbed on the bottom runners of the papa holua (sled). A ride down the mountain could reach speeds in excess of 50mph.
In the 1820’s missionaries and westerners attempted to abolish the sport of he’e holua (sled riding) calling it savage and barbaric. Today, University of Hawaii Professor Thomas “Pohaku” Stone has been instrumental in reviving the sport. By re-introducing he’e holua and educating keiki and adults the Hawaiian heritage now has a growing interest.
“The Hawaiians developed a sport called holua. The word holua means slide. This sport was played only by royalty according to Hawaiian tradition. To make a holua track, the ground was paved with stones and grass, and a special sled was built. A person would go to the top of a hill with the sled and get a running start before jumping on the sled and coasting down the holua track as far as 300 yards. Along with the Keokea Holua, there are a couple of other tracks at Pu’uhonua o Honaunau NHP.”