Falaniko Penesa of Puipa'a was crowned first place in the 27th Annual Samoan World Fireknife Championships held Saturday, 11 May at the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) in La'ie, Hawai'i, claiming a cool cash prize of $USD7,500.
The win comes two years after Penesa, a performer at Disneyland Hong Kong, first won the competition in 2017, making him a two-time champion in La'ie.
For the first time in the history of the 27-year-old siva afi battle, all three finalists were past champions of the La'ie competition, said PCC's Steve Laulu in video footage posted by PCC.
In the finals, Penesa faced Mikaele Oloa of Waialua, O'ahu, Hawai'i and Joseph Cadousteau of Papeete, Tahiti and Condon, Oregon.
Oloa won first runner-up and received a $USD5,000 cash prize, a fireknife trophy and a pale and sei from Faletuiga Hawai'i.
Cadousteau finished second runner-up. He won a $USD3,000 cash prize, a fireknife trophy and a pale and sei from Faletuiga Hawai'i.
In addition to his $USD7,500 cash prize, Penesa received a fireknife trophy, a tuiga trophy by Tauivi Designs plus a pale/sei, one ula and a kiki from Faletuiga Hawai'i.
The siva afi finals capped the one-day We Are Samoa Cultural Festival that draws Samoan students from across the state of Hawai'i to PCC each year.
Mark Leaumoana Magallanes, award-winning designer and costume maker who operates Faletuiga Hawai'i out of Makaha, O'ahu, was given the honour of crowning the siva afi winners with their pale and sei.
Faletuiga is major sponsor of the siva afi championships in La'ie.