To covet and cherish is human

What are the things that really matter to you? It is a question asked so often that it almost seems cliche. Yet it never loses relevance. While I can’t say the appearance of fine wrinkles or the increasing roundness of my figure are “perks” of getting older, I can say that what has also come with the passing of time is a refined sense of what I value most in life. ʻAʻohe oʻu kānalua i nā mea aʻu e makeʻe loa aiI have no doubt about what it is that I prize greatly and have deep affection for.

Nolaila, ma ke ano o ka makuahine aloha a makee keiki oiaio, puili mai la oia i kana keiki iloko o kona umauma, a haawi i na honi aloha ana me na kulu waimaka (Ke Aloha Aina, 15 June 1901) – So, in the fashion of mothers who love and truly cherish children, she embraced her child in her bosom and gave her loving kisses and falling tears…

Yes, I really cherish my keiki and being a mom is a huge part of my life. There is something really freeing about figuring out what really matters to you. It instantly cuts a bunch of life’s “noise” and allows a person to focus. That must be how it was for Wilikoki ( Robert Wilcox), whose “manaʻo makeʻe ʻāina” (thoughts of deep affection for the land) drove him to defend his country and “jealously” guard the rights of those born on its soil even if it meant risking his life. As a result, he was loved by many ʻōiwi of the time who also wanted the lawful constitution (of 1864) and the full authority of King Kalākaua restored after he had been forced to sign the Bayonet Constitution (of 1887).


The quote in the prior paragraph and the above paukū (verse) were taken from “Ka Buke Moolelo o Hon. Robert William Wilikoki” by author Thomas K. Nakanaela (1890).

Although I am intrigued by Wilikoki, my original fascination with this word started when I read a short piece in Ka Leo o Ka Lahui about Queen Liliʻuokalani where I saw the term “makeʻe aliʻi.” This idea that our kūpuna really loved their aliʻi is evidenced over and over in the Hawaiian-language newspapers. Editor John E. Bush of the abovementioned paper says that Hawaiians are a “Lahui Makee Alii” (a race that covets and cherishes their Chiefs).

ʻO nā kānaka Hawaiʻi, he poʻe makeʻe haku, he poʻe nēnē ʻili kapu – The Hawaiian people are people who cherish their lords, people constantly thinking of the sacred skin [of chiefs]. (Hawaiian Dictionary)

But chiefs are not all our kūpuna prized, as there were many terms that paired with makeʻe in the nūpepa, like makeʻe keiki, makeʻe ʻāina, mālama makeʻe, makeʻe waiwai, makeʻe hanohano and more. Not all kinds of makeʻe have a favorable connotation, but we have seen many other words that have this dual nature, so no scared um. 

makeʻe kū.lana n.v. To desire to preserve the status quo; conservative. (Hawaiian Dictionary)

As a wahine makeʻe ʻōlelo, I say stuff the status quo and use this word all kine ways. Makeʻe all kine action. You can even makeʻe ai (they call that “hangi pants” in Aotearoa, and no they are NOT talking about food). Make up some makeʻe and then look it up. With *10,022* hits in the nūpepa, there is a good chance some kupuna went makeʻe it already.  And what a gem that “makeʻe kūlana” is. I hope I am not the only dissenter who is excited to bust this term out at just the right time. Why don’t we practice with a couple of modern examples?

Q: So what, is Pualei coming to the water rights rally? A: Nah, makeʻe kūlana ʻo ia. She no like be seen with all us kūʻē (protesters).

Auē. Hana kaʻu kāne i nā lā a pau o ka pule. Makaeʻe waiwai ʻo ia! – Oh my goodness. My husband works every day of the week. He is so eager for material gain!

No kuʻu makeʻe i nā lāʻau Hawaiʻi, hele a paʻapū ka pā hale. – Because I really prize Hawaiian plants, my yard has become packed.

E ola ka ʻōlelo o ka ʻāina!