Hulali: The Hawaiian Word of The Week



Sparkling & Bright

Are you attracted to things that glitter and shine? The sparkly and reflective? Things with glossy goodness or a little luster? If the answer is yes, we are definitely from the same planet. Things that huali are not everyone’s bag, I get it. But some of us are totally seduced by the razzle-dazzle. I think we could have rolled with Poliʻahu mā:

Iā Poliʻahu mā ʻehā e kū ana me nā kapa hau o lākou, he mea ʻē ka hulali. – While Poliʻahu and the others, four in total, were standing in their garments of snow, the sparkling was extraordinary. (Ke Kaʻao o Lāʻieikawai)

In effort to describe the concept of pono, one writer compared it to the physical manifestation of this akua wahine (female deity) in her home, i.e. the glistening white of snow of Mauna Kea:

He keokeo hulali e like me ka hau o Mauna Kea (Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, 9 December 1865)

Of course Poliʻahu visits us occasionally here on Haleakalā, but it is pretty rare. Indeed, she prefers the majesty of her lofty mountain home on Hawaiʻi Island. But we make do here on Maui with the many other splendors on offer. Just this past Friday, on the way to the Kalo Fest in Hāna, my sister and I hiked up one of our favorite streams from the ocean and bathed in the wai hulali o ia kahawai kamahaʻo (the sparkling waters of that amazing little river).

Hulali e, a huali mai! – “Sparkling & Bright” (A temperance song published in Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, 17 October 1885)

The gorgeous afternoon light reflected off the cool liquid like dancing diamonds. I could barely believe my eyes it was so beautiful. I felt deeply grateful as I plunged into the crisp, clear water. I didn’t realize how thirsty my soul was for this brief moment in a stream. I get in the ocean on the regular, but the hulali of the wai a Kāne (water of Kāne, or fresh water) is still my favorite kind of sparkle. 

Of course, if I was an aku, I would feel entirely different. My favorite kind of hulali would be that of the pā, or mother-of-pearl shell lure. There are legendary pā that make aku jump in the canoe without even putting them in the ocean, by merely bringing them out into the sunlight. The shimmer that the aku really makeʻe was called hulali by  Robert Kaʻiwa Punihaole in a conversation with Kepā Maly. He describes the reaction of the aku to the pā:

See, the pā, hulali, and the aku see that, oh [slaps hands, indicating striking the pā]!

He also talks about the practice of chipping away at the edges of certain living pearl shells (he called this kīpoʻopoʻo), which caused the shell to thicken, making for a good strong lure once it was carved. He said the process took as long as three months and you always hoped nobody came along and took the shell you had worked so hard to cultivate. Unreal.

Silks, pearls, diamonds, gems of all sorts, gold coins (any coins really), gold chains, spurs on boots, fancy swords and the tips of guns, all of these were described as hulali by kūpuna who wrote in the nūpepa. Yet the examples above were the ones that spoke to me most. After all, I am the child of farmers – what do I know about silk, diamonds, or guns? I grew up planting onions, collecting shells, and dreaming of fresh water swims, so the hulali shown above appeal to me. But I know there are some lovers of bling out there, so here’s one for you folks (Ke Au Okoa, 15 May 1865):  

Aole no e like – It is not like

Me kuu lei kaimana – My dear diamond necklace

He hulali ke lei ae – That sparkles when worn

Kinikohu maoli no – Truly fine-looking

Whether it’s the hulali of bling or wai that floats your boat, take time to appreciate the sparkle in life. It is a place where joy and beauty take center stage, even if just for brief moments. We all need small delights in the midst of the madness. Speaking of madness, no word of the week blog post would be complete without a couple of modern examples:

E kuʻu sweetie, mahalo nui au i kāu kiʻi! Ua kaha ʻoe me ka peni wai hulali? – Hey my sweetie, I really like your picture! Did you draw it with a glitter pen?*

E hele kākou i ke kahawai! Ke ake nei au e ʻau i ka wai hulali! – Let’s go to the river. I want to swim in the sparkling water!

*Disclaimer: peni wai hulali is my own made up word for “glitter pen” (my 4-year old’s favorite drawing tool at the moment). The modern word for glitter, per Māmaka Kaiao, is “hune hulili,” but I didn’t really like how that went with peni, so I decided to haku my own term. These two examples show how important context is in defining meaning. “Wai hulali” is used twice to mean both an ink that sparkles, as from a glitter pen, and the sparkling fresh water of a river.

E ola ka ʻōlelo o ka ʻāina!

Mōkio: The Hawaiian Word of The Week



Straight to the destination

Lately I have been having many a haliʻa (fond memory) for the days when I was single and had no kids. In those days, I had all the time in the world to holoholo (shoot the cruise) and just go with the flow. If I wanted to stop somewhere on a whim, it wasn’t a problem. If I wanted to change tracks, most of the time it was no biggie. These days, in contrast, nearly every time I get in the car (or strap on my running shoes), the destination is set and there is a clear purpose. Mōkio aku nō koʻu alahele no kahi i hoʻolālā ʻia aiMy path goes straight to wherever has been planned.

Ua pa mai kekahi makani mamua he Noa ka inoa ma ka helu a ko Niihau poe, ua mokio aku ka ihu o ko makou wahi waapa no ka akau ia manawa (Ko Hawaii Pae Aina, 8 February 1890) – A wind blew in front of us, it is called Noa by the listing of Niʻihau’s people, [and] the prow of our little skiff pointed straight for the north at that time

Those footloose and fancy free days of living in San Francisco and Honolulu that I have been thinking about lately (secretly pining for at times) weren’t completely unstructured. I had a job to be at and classes some semesters (I was on the long range degree plan). But I had WAY more free and unstructured time in those days. Now it seems like I have almost none. These days each destination is pre-planned and I always seem to be racing the clock. It is the jarring reality of adulthood, parenthood, modern life.

Oia ko lakou wa i kau ae ai ma luna o ke kaa, a mokio pololei aku la no ka hale hookolokolo ka pahu hopu o ka lakou huakai. (Ka Leo o Ka Lahui, 4 April 1895) – That’s when they hopped in the car and headed straight for the courthouse, the goal of their journey.

My husband and I have this crazy white board where our weekly schedule is all written out. The fat strokes of green and blue, the definitive blocks of time tell me where I am supposed to be and when. Mondays and Wednesdays, I wake up and mōkio aku nō koʻu alahele no kahakai – My path heads straight for the beach. I swim, then go straight to work for a designated block of hours, then go straight home to switch off with the hubby: tag, you’re it, go work. I feel like a horse sometimes because I am so used to my routes that I just put my head down and go. I literally have to set cell phone reminders anytime there is even a slight deviation.

ua haalele iho la oia i kona home, a niau hookahi aku la ma ke alaloa, e mokio pololei ana hoi ina kapuai kunukunu ole o kona lio no ke kuahiwi e waiho mai la imua ona. (Ka Leo o Ka Lahui, 15 September 1893) – he left his home and took swiftly to the road alone, directing the steady steps of his horse towards the mountains that lay before him.

I don’t mean for the daily/weekly routine to sound pakuā (trite, commonplace, ordinary). I am hell bent on enjoying life, so I keep it fun, even within the confines of the white board. I try to be more spontaneous when I am on duty with our girls and not script out every single movement. I try to say yes when they ask to take a new route or deviate from what we have “planned.” At 2 and 4 it is nice to let them follow their curiosities and see where they lead us.

I guess one thing I really appreciated in this new word – yes totally new to me, YAY – is the purpose in it. With mōkio, there is no doubt about the destination. The mission is set, the target identified. There can be security in this, as purposeful movements are something humans thrive on.

Aka, aole i liuliu ua mokio pololei loa aku la kona ike maluna o kekahi kanaka opio oloko o ka huakai (Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, 23 February 1906) – However, in no time her gaze fixed right on one of the young men in the traveling group

The other thing I love is, of course, having another option besides “hele pololei.” Mōkio is beautifully specific and fills a little puka in my ʻōlelo where I had this other pani hakahaka (placeholder). Well, if I can remember to use it, that is what should happen. Hehehe. Here are a couple of modern examples to help that become a reality:

E mōkio aku nō kou mau kapuaʻi wāwae no ka hale o kou hoa. Mai lalau! – Go straight to your friend’s house. Don’t stray! [Parent to child]

Haʻalele akula lākou iā Hāna a mōkio akula ka huakaʻi no Kahului. – They left Hāna and [their journey] headed straight for Kahului.

E ola ka ʻōlelo o ka ʻāina!

Hōʻināʻinau – The Hawaiian Word of The Week



Talk to me sweetly

E na hoa hooipoipo a hoinainau o nei mea he moolelo… (Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, 17 May 1873) – O friends who revel and find pleasure in this thing known as a story…

Mmmm mmmm. Did you catch that? So sweet. Such intimacy. Again. These Hawaiian writers, I tell you, they just wanted their readers to cozy up and become completely absorbed in their moʻolelo. Like a warm blanket on a cold night, their stories were places of shelter and contentment where fascination and wonder were plentiful. I must take a leaf out of their books to improve my own writing. For now, I will just offer the gorgeous quote above as an invitation to you, e nanea i kēia wahi moʻolelo hōʻināʻinau – to enjoy this short and (hopefully) interesting piece of writing.

A launa ae la lakou nei ekolu, elua wahine, hookahi kane, o Aukelenuiaiku, a pau ka lakou mau olelo hoinainau, haule iho la lakou konane. (Fornander, Vol IV) – These three met, two women, one man, Aukelenuiaiku, and when their pleasantries were done, they began to play kōnane.

It’s hard to read the stories and writings of our kūpuna and not wish for a time machine. Hopeless romantics like me dream of visiting a time before. Of experiencing other versions of intimacy than the seemingly narrow stream offered by modern society. 

“Kuu kane mai ka ua Paupili, mai ka ua halii mai i ke kula” a peia no ka ipo e poina ole ai i kona hoa ma kana mau palapala hoinainau aku ia ia… (Ke Au Okoa, 30 May 1867) – “My man from the Paupili rain, from the rain that spreads like a blanket over the fields” and this is how a sweetheart would not forget her companion in her wooing letters to him

Pleasant or wooing words, sweet songs, sweet things for a sweetheart, loved and trusted companions, tasty tidbits, to engage in something pleasurable or interesting, all these images were contained in the uses of hōʻināʻinau that I came across. They all hinted at and made me ʻono for little intimacies that just seem different than those of today.

No laila maanei no e heluhelu ai kakou, a malama iho me ka naau aloha hoinainau no ka kakou Kamalei, ka mea a kakou e hooipo nei, a e hoopumehana nei ma ko kakou poli, e like me ka mea mau i ko kakou nei ano o na Hawaii (Ko Hawaii Ponoi, 15 April 1874) – So it is here that we will read, and care with lovingly engaged hearts for our Child, the one whose affections we seek, and who we keep warm in our bosom, like is normal in our nature as Hawaiians

Whether or not my romantic notions are anything but that is up for debate. Suffice to say that I really like the intimacy that is communicated both in this word and the style of many of our best writers. It is something my being yearns for in a world that seems to get colder and more fragmented all the time. Although hanging on to a diverse sense of intimacy is much less pressing than many other issues we face as kanaka, I think it is worth contemplating. Maybe between the pages of a good moʻolelo under the covers of a comfy bed. Or, better yet, in the arms of a loved one.

On the geeky side, it was interesting that there were no examples of the root word ʻināʻinau in the nūpepa, but hundreds of examples of its causative or simulative form hōʻināʻinau. Also interesting is that this word was often used as a kāuhlu (modifier), coming after a noun, as you can see from most of the examples above (kind of like how we use an adjective in English). That is the safest and easiest territory to cover with this tricky and nuanced term, so our modern examples will stay in that vein:

Hōʻea wale maila ʻo Victor i koʻu hale i ka pō nei a kū akula ʻo ia i waho o ka puka o ka hale me ka mele pū ʻana mai i mele hōʻināʻinau iaʻu! – Victor just showed up at my house last night and stood outside my window singing me a courting song!

ʻO wai kēia hoa hōʻināʻinau hou āu e ke hoa?! – Who is this new intimate companion of yours, my friend?!

E ola ka ʻōlelo o ka ʻāina!

Makeʻe: The Hawaiian Word of The Week



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!

Linohau: The Hawaiian Word of The Week



Beauty in so many forms

If language fruits (huaʻōlelo) are part of my daily diet, I’d really like a banquet to choose from, rather than what feels sometimes like a lunchbox. “Nani” may be the first place my mind goes to when faced with any kind of “beauty,” but our language has such a nuanced understanding of beauty and SO many words to choose from.

Linohau ka ohu i na pali la, I ka hao a kamakani e – Finely ornamenting the mist there on the cliffs, in the buffeting of the wind (Ka Hoku o Ka Pakipika, 20 March 1862)

Can you imagine being limited to the word “beautiful” in English? It would drive you nuts, right?! So we keep searching and keep broadening our vocabulary of Hawaiian words too. I am lucky that my job forces me to look for different ways of articulating beauty and, in the process, reckon with new words.

E lawe oe a Linohau, A ai ka manu i luna – Take it till beautifully decorated, Till the birds feed above (Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, 2 December 1861)

So it was with choosing linohau as the name for our Kū 2016 Spring/Summer line. We wanted to bring forward another term for beauty, but one that connected to the collection in a meaningful way. It made the most sense to recall our lehua ʻōlino mau (our ever radiant lehua) by using the name linohau. Brilliance and beauty as dazzling as that of Timoteo Haʻalilio warrants many beautiful words.

Kāhiko ā oki ā pāʻihiʻihi, lawe ā linohau ā mikihilina (chant for Kalākaua) – Dressed in best, neatest finery, most fine and ornate (Hawaiian Dictionary)

Had I not been diligent in my research, though, I could have missed the pilina (connection/relationship). By following words and word roots, many fun discoveries can be made. But something as simple as making sure to read the meanings for a word from all the dictionaries can make a big difference. Although we are lead to believe that most things in Parker come from Andrews and most of Andrews is in Pukui Mā, it isn’t always the case.

You can see the Pukui meanings in the image above, but look how much broader of a picture we get with the other two dictionaries: Linohau. To be proud or haughty (Andrews). Of great worth; most beautiful; to be beautiful; to be noble, great, excellent, etc. (Parker). Use that as a leaping point for exploration in the nūpepa and suddenly we are in an ocean of meaning and not just a few small ponds.


One hui (chorus) of several from the song Kuhalahala by Eliza Holt, published in Buke Mele Hoonanea, accessible here. One approximation: Arriving without dissatisfaction to tranquil beauty.


That ocean is where much of the excitement lies for me, in terms of where we are today. With all these resources opening up, our opportunities to deepen our understanding also increase. We cannot lean solely on what is familiar or what “kumu said” (since most kumu today are second language learners themselves). They can guide us only so far and then we have to go into the wilderness of words ourselves and weave our own lei, i mea hoʻi e linohau ai i ka ʻike o nā kūpuna – so that we may be ornamented with the knowledge of our kūpuna. 

On that note, here are a couple of modern examples:

Linohau maoli ʻoe i kou lole hou – You look truly excellent in your new clothes

ʻAʻole o kana mai ka linohau o lāua ala! – Those two are so beautifully dressed!


Eia ma ko makou halekuai nei na paa lole e linohau ai o na Keonimana – Here in our store are the suits that bring dignified excellence to the Gentlemen (From an old add for “Chas. J. Fishels” a purveyor of clothing and accessories in the 1890s)

E ola ka ʻōlelo o ka ʻāina!

ʻŌlino: The Hawaiian Word of The Week



A bright beacon

ʻŌlino. Such a beautiful word invoking images of light, hope, knowing, fulfillment. When it comes time to haku (compose/invent) an ʻōlelo for a design, I usually have to search long and hard for the exact huaʻōlelo (words) that will convey the intended manaʻo (meaning). However, upon learning about Timoteo Haʻalilio, who he was and his incredible accomplishments, ʻōlino quickly and effortlessly came to mind. The whole ʻōlelo, really, just tumbled out, as if sent from somewhere else:

Ka Lehua ʻŌlino Mau – The Ever Brilliant Lehua

Not only was Haʻalilio extremely naʻauao (educated and enlightened), but he helped Hawaiʻi to shine on the world stage with his greatest achievement: the successful diplomatic mission to America and Europe to secure recognition of Hawaiʻi as an Independent State (Nation).


Timoteo Kamalehua Haʻalilio

What is the story behind this incredible hero of Hawaiian history? Well, scholars are still piecing it together, but a fair bit has come to light. Timoteo Kamalehua Haʻalilio was born in Koʻolau, Oʻahu in 1808. Of chiefly lineage himself, he was taken in by the Kamehameha family at the age of 8 as a companion for Kauikeaouli, who was then three years old. The two would be close all of Haʻalilio’s life until he left on the diplomatic mission.

Haʻalilio and Kauikeaouli were educated together under Hiram Bingham and when Lahainaluna opened up, Haʻalilio continued his education there. At the tender age of 18, he married Hannah Hooper and their wedding celebration was held at the home of Kīnaʻu. His future was so bright that he probably would have worn shades if they were around back then.

Ua ao Hawaiʻi ke ʻōlino nei mālamalama. Hawaiʻi is enlightened, for the brightness of day is here. Hawaiʻi is in an era of education. (ʻŌlelo Noʻeau)

Haʻalilio was highly literate, reading and writing in both Hawaiian and English. He was also quite numerate, or good at math, and at 34 years old he was made a member of the government treasury board. He also served as Lieutenant Governor of Oʻahu and a member of the Council of Nobles.

Continued threats of violence and takeover of Hawaiʻi were exhausting for Keaukeaouli who, in the early 1840s, was ready to seek a path of protection that would solidify his nation and place it on a level playing field with the major nations of the time. He turned to Haʻalilio as the main diplomatic envoy, i.e. a representative to act on his behalf (when the sovereignty of your land rests entirely in you, it is too dangerous a journey to make personally). It was a logical choice that flowed from their history together and the kind of person Haʻalilio had grown into.

To accompany Haʻalilio, Kauikeaouli chose William Richards, a missionary with the second company in 1823, who played a crucial role in helping to lay down the bones of nationhood. He supplied some of the legal and political texts that guided the process of developing the framework of a nation, all the palapala (documents) needed for this process.


Timoteo Haʻalilio (left) and William Richards (right)

The two embarked on a journey that would span more than two years. On July 8, 1842, they boarded a ship for Mexico and traveled overland to a port on the south-western side to board a steamer for Washington. Here is a passage about their journey from a letter written by Haʻalilio and published in the Hawaiian language newspapers (translation mine):

“…we have made it through this great land safely. We were not beset with troubles and were indeed well cared for by the lord until reaching here. However, our bodies have become weary due to the length of the road. There has been intense heat and cold. We have been wet by rain and snow, been through mountains and rivers, and also the vast forests here in Mexico. We have forded river mouths lying at the base of the mountains in the day and the night. In the cold and the heat we have also endured hunger and rode on the backs of mules from dawn till dusk.”

During their visit to Washington, U.S. President Tyler made an initial promise to recognize Hawaiʻi’s independence, contingent upon the recognition of other major world powers, namely France and Great Britain, their next two destinations. In Europe they were joined by George Simpson and the three traveled around for nearly a year, meeting with officials, building relationships, doing whatever they did in those days to get other nations to recognize your sovereignty. It could not have been easy and would have taken great social skill and, well, diplomacy.

Finally, on November 28, 1843, a cold day in London, Great Britain and France entered into a formal agreement (the Anglo-French Proclamation) and Hawaiian Independence, at least in the sense of international law, was born. This is why we celebrate Lā Kūʻokoʻa (Independence Day), because of the work of these men, representing their Sovereign, Kauikeaouli (Kamehameha III), and successfully earning Hawaiʻi a place on the playing field with the other great nations of the time. We were the first non-European nation to receive this standing. Hey, somebody’s gotta set the trend.

He ʻōlino aloha kēia iā ʻoe ē – This is a bright ray of love for you (chant of Hiʻiaka)

Having succeeded in their mission, Haʻalilio and Richards headed for home via America once again, but by this time Haʻalilio’s health was in decline. The following is a short excerpt of an article from The Polynesian published in 2002:

“By the fall of 1844 Haʻalilio had taken ill, and spent several weeks in a Massachusetts Hospital. On November 18, 1844 Haʻalilio and William Richards set sail for Hawaiʻi from Boston on the ship Montreal. But this great patriot and favorite son of Hawaiʻi would never see his beloved homeland again.

On December 3, 1844, Timoteo Kamalehua Haʻalilio drew his last breath and died at sea…Hawaiʻi wept upon learning of his passing. The people gathered by the thousands to honor this native son who sacrificed his life for the good of the country.”

No laila e kuʻu mau makamaka aloha ʻāina, this is the story of Timoteo Haʻalilio and Hawaiian Independence. Really, it is only part of the story and more remains to be uncovered and shared. For now, though, please join us in honoring this incredible patriot who gave his life for our sovereignty. We need a day dedicated to him – Timoteo Haʻalilio Day.  Whether or not he gets the recognition he deserves, one thing is for certain: this lehua will always shine brilliantly. This bright beacon can guide us forward if we look to his light and wisdom.

Ioane Goodhue and Justine Kamelamela

*Special thanks goes out to Kaui Sai-Dudoit for generously sharing her ʻike and research with us and for inspiring us to do this design! Mahalo iā ʻoe e ʻAnakē.

We are also proud to say that this piece on Haʻalilio completes one year of Ka Huaʻōlelo o Ka Pule posts on our blog. That’s 52 posts about ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi for you, e nā hoa! We hope you have enjoyed reading them as much as we have enjoyed writing them. Leave a comment below and let us know how we can improve and bring you more of what you need on your ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi journey!

E ola ke aupuni Hawaiʻi. E kūʻokoʻa mau a mau!

Kaluhea: The Hawaiian Word of The Week



A rare and lovely fragrance

Some beauty is so rare and far away from our daily lives that many of us may never experience it or even know that it exists. So it is with the hōlei tree and her sweet little flowers whose intoxicating fragrance can transport you with a single inhalation. Think yellow ginger crossed with Plumeria. Think native cousin to the Plumeria. Lei worthy for sure, but I have never seen a lei hōlei. Tihi. Lei hōlei.


Hōlei | Ochrosia haleakalae PC: Kim Starr

Kaluhea wale kahi pua makaliʻiSimply fragrant is a certain tiny flower. This tiny flower and the rare dryforest tree it comes from inspired this ʻōlelo and design. Hōlei is actually a small obsession of mine.

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Ochrosia haleakalae | PC: Forest & Kim Starr

Maybe it is more accurate to say that the pua kaluhea (fragrant flower) of the hōlei opened something in me. It deepened my love for the dryforest of Auwahi, Maui, where I experienced its beauty. A beauty our kūpuna knew well (they used this tree in may ways), but few of us have the opportunity to experience now. It made an indelible mark on my mind and heart, representing what we can lose if we are not careful. The unique treasures of our natural heritage that could easily fall from our grasp if we fail to hang on to them.


So are we gonna look at a whole bunch of examples of kaluhea? ʻAʻole. Instead, we’re going uka (upland) to the forests of Auwahi where my love affair with this flower began. E huakaʻi aku kākou (let’s take a little trip).


Auwahi Hawaiian Dryforest, Maui | PC:

At about 4,200 ft elevation on the leeward slopes of Halekalā, on ʻUlupalakua Ranch property, lies one of the best remnant dryforests in all of Hawaiʻi (pictured above). Lloyd Loope and Art Medeiros, a couple of forward-thinking biologists with deep aloha ʻāina, recognized the value of this habitat, home to nearly 50 species of native trees, many of which were important to our ancestors.

With permission from the ranch they built a fence and began to eliminate alien species and plant native ones. During my summer internships with Art Medeiros at Auwahi (2001 & 2002), I had the privilege of planting hōlei tree seedlings (along with several other rare dryforest species).


Volunteers planting at Auwahi | PC:

With a mere 250 trees left on Maui when they established the first restoration site, this species was heading down ke ala hoʻi ʻole mai (path of no return, a.k.a. extinction) that many of our lāʻau ʻōiwi (native plants) have gone down. These kūpuna of the uka that once stood proud in great numbers had dwindled to a perilous count. Were it not for Lloyd and Art, this tree might have become a faint memory, a distant echo of a beautiful song.

I can’t describe how good it felt to plant native tree seedlings on the ʻāina where they belong. One need not question the value of helping to increase the number of native trees in a habitat Art refers to as “the Ace Hardware” of our kūpuna. The dryforests were where they sourced the hardwoods they needed to make all manner of tools and other important things. Every adze handle, digging stick, kapa beater, tattooing implement, ia mea aku, ia mea aku (etc., etc.),  were all made with these dense, heavy, close-grained woods of the dryforests. Click here to view the moʻolelo tag for our hōlei design and learn about the things our kūpuna used this tree for.


It was the hōlei flower with its delicious scent and unique beauty that became the choicest pua in my lei of experiences at Auwahi. I will forever be thankful to Art Medeiros for having me as an intern and introducing me to the treasures of the dryforest. Click here to learn more about Auwahi and here to learn about Puʻuwaʻawaʻa, the other major dryforest habitat where hōlei lives. As we approach Merrie Monarch and the celebration of our beloved hula that honors our places, it is a wonderful time to think about native plants and how they enable our practices. Where do the native plants on your mokupuni live? How can you support the native habitats where you are from? 


Hōlei dress | Available soon in the shop

We are proud to present our design honoring hōlei, something I have been personally waiting for since the birth of our company. It will be releasing in this next couple of days in our online shop, so check it out!


Hōlei women’s baggie tee and men’s notched tee

E ola ka ʻōlelo a me nā lāʻau o ka ʻāina!

Hīnaʻi: The Hawaiian Word of The Week



Celebrating the basket

Baskets are wonderful for so many reasons. Our modern associations with them range from Easter to clothes, but they served very different functions for our kūpuna. Hīnaʻi, or fish-catching baskets, were an important way to get food and a method often employed by women. Hīnaʻi range in shape, size, and function, and are woven from the aerial roots of the ʻieʻie (Freycinetia arborea). These fabulous roots were used for hīnaʻi, mahiole (helmets), kiʻi (religious images), and more. This ʻieʻie weaving for hīnaʻi is what we celebrated with our Makahiki 15/16 design.


Freycinetia arborea – the beautiful plant that gives the aerial roots used to make hīnaʻi. PC: Dr. Gerry Carr

If you have already gotten one of the shirts, dresses, or pareu sporting this design, then you have the tag and have read our short story about hīnaʻi (if not, you can read it here in our Design Library).

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One of the new hīnaʻi pareu soon to be available on our shop site. PC: @beingthisone

As usual, we came upon far too many wonderful things to pack into one tag. So for today’s post, we bring you just a few of the tidbits we loved, but couldn’t fit in the short moʻolelo.

One of the old stories of ʻAiʻai (pronounced Aʻiaʻi by some) talks about his parents, both fishing deities, passing on and leaving him hungry. The inventive lad that he was, he wove a hīnaʻi and set it in the ocean with prayers to his parents to help fill his basket with fish. The passage below was taken from Ka Hoomana Kahiko (16 March 1865), a series of articles in Ka Nupepa Kuokoa.

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Translation: Hina then said to her husband, “Look, we have but one descendant living in this world, and he is desperate for fish”. “Perhaps we should give fish,” said Kū‘ula. Kū‘ula then spoke again, “Fish of what kind?” Hina answered again, “The Hīnālea fish because our son has a woven fish trap.” “Fill the fish trap until the Hinaleapalaloa overflow the brim.”– ‘Ai‘ai took the woven fish trap and placed it in a tide pool. The fish went into the trap until it was full. That is how ‘Ai‘ai got fish. *This translation was done by students of Puakea Nogelmeier for a UH Sea Grant Project (click here for the full version).

Below is a mele penned by Samuel Kamakau, in his column Ka Moolelo o Na Kamehameha (also in Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, 23 May 1868). It comes about after Kaʻahumanu is enraged by the marriage of Kīnaʻu and Kekūanāoʻa. For complex genealogical reasons and to retain the highest rank possible, Kaʻahumanu wanted Kīnaʻu to marry Kamehameha III. I guess she had other plans for herself. (Translation mine)

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Kona rests its head in the quiet,

Twice tumbling in the serenity of ʻEhukaipo,

The canoe does not overturn when it goes in the calm,

Treading on the expanse of the stillness,

Like the cultivated lands of Kona as they are,

Deserted, there, in the sun.

From Lanihau to Keopu -O-

Idling in the unentered fish basket,

Without bait to entice,

To make fish enter and be ensnared in the net.


Another interesting example came from a short news item about a woman who nearly drowned while setting her hīnaʻi in the ocean (“ua hele kekahi wahine i ka hooluuluu”). It is unclear exactly why she passed out, but I think it had something to do with her “night life.”

A iaia i hoomaka ai e hoonoho i kana hinai, pule akula ia i ka Haku, i ka ike ana he moe ino ko ka po. I ka amama ana ae o kana pule, au aku oia ma kana wahi i makemake ai, a ia wa koke no, loohia maila oia i ka ona, a pau kona ike. (Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, 21 April 1866)

Approximation: And when she began to set up her basket, she prayed to the Lord, as she knew she had a bad dream in the night. When her prayer was finished, she swam out to the spot of her choosing, and in that instant she was overwhelmed with dizziness and blacked out. 

The poor woman had to be taken ashore, massaged, and brought back to consciousness. Talk about a bad time to pass out! The article ends by saying that there was some kind of “lalau” (straying) during a bad dream. This is an interesting example of how important the dream life still was to people at that time.

In our last example, the writer of the article was scandalized after coming upon a school where people were learning hula kuʻi on Molokai (“He Hula Ku-i ma Kawela, Molokai“). He goes on about how terrible it was and then describes how the people inside watched and listened with fascination:

O na kanaka hoi e akoakoa ana maloko, ua nanea loa lakou i ka hoolohe; a ua like loa ko lakou akoakoa ana maloko o ka hale o K. me he mau Hinalea la e mumulu ana mawaho o ka hinai a ka poe lawaia hooluuluu. (Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, 21 March 1868)

Approximation: As for the people gathering inside, they listened in total fascination; and their congregating inside the house of K. was like a bunch of Hinalea swarming outside the trap of the people who dive/set baskets to catch this type of fish. Click here to enjoy this quick and fascinating read.

We hope you liked these extras from our noiʻi (research) in the nūpepa. We also hope you will enjoy the new hīnaʻi releases coming to our shop soon. Keep a lookout this next couple weeks for all kinds of fresh hīnaʻi fashions. Instagram is a great way to stay updated, so if you don’t already, follow us on @kealopiko where we announce all new releases.

E ola ka ʻōlelo o ka ʻāina!

Kāpekepeke: The Hawaiian Word of The Week



Doubtful? Uncertain? Join the club.

Speaking Hawaiian to my children is a path I am fully committed to and have no doubts about. I just know it is what I need to do, so I keep at it every day, i loko nō o nā piʻina me nā ihona, na puʻu me nā keʻe (amidst the ups and downs, the bumps and imperfections). However, the language choices I make every day (i.e. how I say stuff, the vocabulary I choose, etc.), many of those I am not so sure about. Ma laila nō au e kāpekepeke nui aiThere, I am often uncertain, insecure, and even fickle at times.

…ike au i ke kanaka ili keokeo, hele mai ia ma kona mau wawae kapekepeke, he kekee loa kona hele ana; ma kela aoao ma keia aoao o ke alanui kona hele ana me he moku luliluli la i ke kai ooloku. (Ke Kumu Hawaii, 9 Dec 1835) – …I saw a fair-skinned person, he came toward me on his unsteady feet. His walking was extremely crooked, on this side and that side of the road he went, like a ship rolling and pitching on a stormy sea.

I have learned, for me at least, that this kind of doubt is par for the course, especially as the sole ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi parent in the home (hoʻāʻo nō kaʻu kāne, bless his heart). As a second-language learner, sometimes it is hard to figure out the “best” set of words or grammar patterns for a given activity or to express a certain thought. The funniest is when I am trying to explain something in Hawaiian and really making a mess of it and my daughters just kind of wait patiently till I am done (by this time they have usually moved on, mentally, to the next thing). I can see their eyes glaze over and the thought bubbles appear over their heads: “How much longer is Māmā gonna wandertalk for? Can I just get a cracker?!” (Like my new term I just coined? Wandertalk. Yeah.)

Pela ka hele ana aku o ia wahi i loko o ke kapekepeke o ka ino o ka naele o Alakai a hiki akula i Kapiliikahuamoa (Ke Au Okoa, 23 February 1871) – And that is how the going went in that place, unsteady in the foulness of the swamp of Alakai all the way till reaching Kapiliikahuamoa

In order to avoid what I call the “Charlie Brown effect” (think unintelligible teacher with nasally “Wa wa, wa wa wa wa…”), I try to work some stuff out in my head beforehand. But very little of parenting can actually be rehearsed or scripted, so he hele kāpekepkepe nō ke ʻanoit is an unsteady walk forward.  Bumbling my way along keeps me humble, though, and constantly in search of remedies for my language deficiencies. And, luckily, parenting is one of those unceasing endeavors that provides limitless opportunities to try stuff out. Didn’t like take 1? You can have ten, twenty, fifty more if you like.

Ua like ke kapekepeke o ko lakou manao me ka pa lauwili ana o [ka] makani. (Ka Hae Hawaii, 18 July 1860) –  The fickleness of their opinions was like the changeable blowing of the wind.

I do have to cap it, though, or I get very little done. I am thankful that part of my paying job is to dig around in the nūpepa and elsewhere to try and broaden my perspective on words or increase my vocabulary, and in doing so produce some semblance of a blog post to share with you all. But most parents (or people with high pressure careers, or, or…) don’t have time to look up every word or dive into the dictionary for hours trying to find the best ways to articulate a thought. So, some searching is great, but we really only have time for so much.

E pau wale ana ka manawa i ka lilo ana ma ka manao kapekepeke, aole oni ae e hana. (Ke Alaula, 1 October 1871) – Time can just go to waste getting absorbed in doubtful thoughts, not moving to action.

That is why I think we need a whole bunch of awesome new books on ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi! Certain things we really donʻt need to kāpekepeke about – our kūpuna had great ways of saying them and today’s native speakers may too and I just don’t know. Why is it not someone’s job to research all the conversational speech that is so common in our daily, modern lives, and take the best from written and spoken archives plus consultations with native speakers and present it in a fun and engaging contemporary conversational language text? Maybe it is someone’s job and I don’t know it? Anyone want to pay me to do it? Ha ha. For real, though, let’s make more books, websites and other places to aggregate this content. It is out there, I know it, we just need to bring it together. Mai manaʻo kāpekepeke e nā hoa, ua hiki nō!Do not doubt, friends, it is possible!

Today’s modern examples:

Ua kupu aʻe nā manaʻo like ʻole no ka hele me ka ʻole i ka hoʻomoana. Nui wale ke kāpekepeke o koʻu noʻonoʻo! – All kinds of thoughts sprouted up about whether or not to go camping. My thinking was so fickle/unsettled!

E akahele nō ke iho ʻoukou i kai. He kāpekepeke nō ka hele ʻana ma kēlā alahele. – Be really careful when you folks go down to the ocean. The going on that trail is quite unsteady. 

*Note on example 2: You can replace “ma” with “o” if you like, as in the style of the second nūpepa example in this post, a fascinating story about the “huakaʻi mākaʻikaʻi a ka Mōʻiwahine” that you can read by clicking here.

E ola ka ʻōlelo o ka ʻāina!

Hikilele: The Hawaiian Word of The Week



Got a really good shock, did you?

The thing I love about being a student of our ʻōlelo aloha is all the little (and big) learning moments that punctuate the somewhat steady routine and flow of my life. A particularly hilarious learning moment happened last week with my kumu/boss at one of my jobs.  

The Skype rang like it does every Monday evening for our work session. I hit the button to answer with video and waited for both pictures to come through. When my own video came on and I saw what I looked like, I gasped from shock. I completely forgot that my hair was thrown up in the messiest “mama bun” EVER (yeah, long-haired mamas, you know exactly what I’m talking about). The thing was sooo pukalakī (mussed and tousled) with all kine bumps everywhere and was just generally tragic.

I whipped it out immediately and began re-bunning, while trying to make light of my kāpulu-ness. I said to my kumu/boss (in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi) that when I saw what I looked like I was “pūʻiwa.” To which he replied, “Ua hikilele!” – You gasped / were startled! At this point we are, of course, both cracking up, as I struggle to tame my mop.

I ka wa o ia nei i ninau hou ai i ke aniani ona, “Aniani uuku, aniani uuku, e hai mai oe ia’u owai la ka wahine ui o keia la?” A pane aku ua wahi aniani nei, “O ka oiaio ka’u e hai aku nei ia oe e kuu alii wahine, o Kahaunani ka wahine ui e ike ia nei.” Ia manawa, hikilele ua wahine nei i ka piha i ka huhu i ke kaikamahine, no ka nui loa o ko ia nei huhu, aole e hiki ia ia ke moe i ka po me ke ao. (Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, 16 December 1861)

Approximation: When she again asked her mirror, “Little mirror, little mirror, tell me, who is the fairest woman today?” And the little mirror answered, “I will tell you the truth, O dear queen of mine, Kahaunani is now the fairest to behold.” At that moment, this woman gasped out of the anger that filled her towards this girl and because she was so furious, she could not sleep day or night.

This story should sound familiar enough that you can guess Kahaunani’s inoa haole (English name). Oh, so hard, so shocking for the wicked wahine to fall from her kūlana uʻi ʻoi kelakela (status as the most fair). Sorry, aunteh, that’s life.

After the bad bun episode, the word hikilele (and it’s causative form hoʻohikilele) kept rolling around in my head. Yep, sometimes moments of hilahila (embarrassment) can burn themselves indelibly into our consciousness. Aside from feeling shame about my sloppy bun, I kept asking myself why pūʻiwa was one of the only words I ever used to express surprise, shock, and the like. In truth, hikilele and hoʻohikilele are not commonly heard, but that is no excuse for me to just plaster pūʻiwa onto anything resembling those states of being and not search any further. 

Aa mai la ke ahi, a wela iho la ka hale, a hikilele ae la laua. I mai la ke kane peneia; “Pau kaua i ke ahi!” A puka aku la laua iwaho. (Ke Kumu Hawaii, 23 December 1835) – The blaze caught and the house became hot and they were startled awake. And the man said, “The fire is going to kill us!” And they got outside.

There are many examples of hikilele for when people are startled awake from a sleeping state. The poor couple referred to in the above example, one of them put a lit cigarette on a rock in their hale and then fell asleep. No safe smoking campaigns around in those days. And there are examples of being awakened by nice things, too, as the following excerpt shows:

Ia manawa, kena koke ae la o Aiwohikupua ia Maile-pakaha, hele aku la a ku ma ka puka o ka Halealii; kuu aku la i kona aala, a hikilele mai la ko Laieikawai hiamoe, honi hou ana no i ke ala. (Ke Kaao o Laieikawai) – At that time Aiwohikupua directed Maile-pakaha to go and stand in the door of the royal house; she released her scent and Laieikawai stratled from sleep, as she smelled the fragrance again.

The physical reaction when we are startled is what helps to differentiate pūʻiwa and hikilele/hoʻohikilele. When we are startled by the crack of a gun, the sudden sound of thunder, or a disturbing voice, hikilele is what happens. All those things hoʻohikilele iā kākou – cause us to be startled.

i ka uhi ana mai o na eheu o ka pouli, ua hoohikilele ia makou e na ahi kao i lele ae i ka lewa luna, a pela i nalo aku ai ia la me kona nani lua ole. (Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, 6 July 1865) – when the wings of darkness spread over, we were startled by the fireworks that leapt above in the sky, and that’s how that day ended with its incomparable beauty.

No laila e nā hoa, pēlā nō au i ʻike HOU ai i ka lawa ʻole o kaʻu mau huaʻōlelo – that’s the short story of how I was reminded, once again, that my vocabulary is lacking. But I mahalo the funny mistakes that lead to learning, as they can be really motivating. What motivates you to hoʻonui (increase) your vocabulary? Leave a comment below!

And, as usual, a couple of modern examples:

Ua lohe ʻoe i ka hekili i ka pō nei? I ke kuʻi mua ʻana mai ua hikilele loa au! Did you hear the thunder last night? When it first clapped I jumped out of my skin!

Ua kaumaha loa mākou i ka lono hoʻohikilele no ka hala ʻana o kēlā wahine. – We were really sad at the shocking news of the death of that woman.

E ola ka ʻōlelo o ka ʻāina!