Monday, August 31, 2009


a native tree (Pelea anisata), found only on Kaua'i

As I was searching through my books searching for inspiration for today's word, my eyes were drawn to the word mokihana. Now anyone who knows me oh so well, knows that the mokihana is, by far, my most favorite lei in the world. This has nothing to do with Kaua'i being my favorite island to visit (well, maybe just a tad), but more to do with its wonderful fragrance, anise-scented fruits, strung together and entwined with maile lauliʻiliʻi lest the wearer bear the dark scars of burns. Yes, the mokihana berries may actually leave burn marks on the wearer's skin, especially if exposed to the sun. I always told people that the marks were well worth the wear because the smell just puts me in a trance. I can literally smell mokihana in the Edith Kanaka'ole Stadium during Merrie Monarch time rows and rows away from me and can follow the scent until I find the wearer. Its fragrance is becoming more and more elusive to me as perhaps it is becoming harder and harder to find.

The mokihana is the lei of the island of Kaua'i which is quite appropriate since it is endemic to the island (arrived by natural means and cannot be found anywhere else on earth). Entwined with the maile lauliʻiliʻi (small leafed maile, also found most abundantly on Kaua'i), it can be purchased when in seasons for $40+. Unfortunately, harvesters of these berries do not always take care of the trees when picking, often picking the fruit that is not quite ready (too small, too green) or overpicking to feed their pocketbook.

Mokihana onaona o Maunahina, lei hoʻohihi a ka malihini - The fragrant mokihana of Maunahina, lei in which visitors delight.

I kahi ʻē nō ke kumu mokihana, paoa ʻē nō ʻoneʻi i ke ʻala - Although the mokihana tree is at a distance, its fragrance reaches here (although a person is far away, the tales of his good deeds come to us)

Friday, August 28, 2009


tooth; toothed; nipper, as of an insect; octopus beak; claw, as of a crab; tusk; biting, of the teeth

Most people know niho to mean teeth or tooth. Most don't know that the claws of a crab are also his niho. Don't they serve the same purpose?

niho ʻole - toothless (I remember my dad calling me this when my baby teeth began falling out, then singing, way too many times, "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth!")

He kekē niho wale iho nō - just an exposing of teeth (just threats)

niho huʻi - toothache; having a toothache (huʻi = ache, pain; aching)

niho ʻawa - poisonous fang or tooth, as of a centipede (literally - bitter tooth)

In Hawaiʻi the molars of defeated warriors, preferably or more likely those belonging to fallen chiefs, were taken and inlaid into bowls, like spittoons (used for the aliʻi to spit into to protect their mana, so that it can be properly disposed of) as an insult to that particular aliʻi. An example of this can be seen at Bishop Museum. I mean, talk about defiling someone's mana! Along the same lines, some kāhili posts (feather standards) were made from the leg bones of humans! That's gotta hurt!

He niho ko kaʻu keiki - My child has a tooth.
Ma hea kou niho? - Where is your tooth?

Thursday, August 27, 2009


leg, foot, paw; upper leg of a crab; foot of a rainbow; to walk.

This is a commonly mispronounced word, most likely because it's cumbersome, especially the ending part. Most people want to end with a long "ee"sound, as in knee. or say something like "waewae" or "waiwai" (which actually means wealthy or rich). I've even seen it spelled that way! The first half, "wā" should be emphasized, then followed by a light "wae".  Hmm, should add a sound byte to this blog.

wāwae pehu - gout (literally-swollen feet)

An interesting note: the limu we know as wāwae ʻiole (green, spongy like, looks like a mini shrub of sorts, ʻono in poke) literally means "rat feet" which sounds kind of gross but is quite descriptive of the limu and helps me to remember its name. Also interesting is there is a plant on land that bears the same name, can be found in the forests and looks almost EXACTLY like the limu. It is used frequently in lei wili!

Nui koʻu wāwae - My feet are big

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


mouth, opening, inner surface of a bowl, open top of a canoe, muzzle
of a gun, oral, one who talks too much :-)

"You all waha". Boy, I can just hear my dad saying this. And believe me, it's a lot funnier today as I think about it than it was when I used to hear it! Now, tell me you heard it, too, small kid time. It's when you say stuff and you are either making it up or just saying a lot of nothing. "You all mouth."

Isn't it ironic that the waha refers to a part of the canoe as does the ihu (nose). Wonder about tomorrow's word...

Here are some interesting "waha" words:

waha ʻawa - a bitter (ʻawa) and sadistic person who makes impulsive vindicative statements about the one he hates.

waha heʻe - to lie; lying, deceitful, false (literally, "slippery mouth. Not to be confused with waihe'e)

waha mana - voice of authority (literally powerful mouth)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


reduplication of ʻolu (cool, refreshing; soft, supple, flexible, pliant), pleasant, nice, amiable, satisfied, contented, happy, affable, agreeable, congenial, cordial, gracious; please.

Frequently we meet people in our lives who are ʻoluʻolu by nature. Much like a couch can be ʻoluʻolu, or comfortable, certain people that we know possess that kind of comfort. These are people who are very gracious and cordial, so much so that we never want to lose them as friends and are confident that we never will by virtue of the ʻoluʻolu-ness. And like not wanting to give away that old ratty couch. we will never leave these friendships. Now I'm not comparing ʻoluʻolu friends to ratty old couches, just the feelings that they evoke! And though we all strive to be ʻoluʻolu in most that we do, I know but a small handful of people who are truly like this. How about you?

He kanaka ʻoluʻolu 'o Kahu Kaupu - Kahu Kaupu is a nice person

ʻOluʻolu is also the word used for "please", the magic word. You can use it like this:

ʻoluʻolu, e honi iaʻu - please kiss me.
E honi iaʻu, ke 'ʻoluʻolu - kiss me, please

Notice how there is an "e" in the beginning please, but when please occurs at the end of the sentence, it changes to "ke".
Thus ends the language lesson.

Monday, August 24, 2009


1. navel, navel string, umbilical cord.
2. summit or top of a hill
or mountain, crest, crown of the head.
3. a common taro with many varieties.

There are many more meanings for piko, these above are just the more commonly known ones. Most common of them all is number 1 above. The navel. Pehea ko piko? How is your navel? This is used as a common question after saying aloha. Not always thought of as appropriate because figuratively piko refers to blood relatives and, lo and behold, the genitals. so pehea ko piko could be viewed as an inappropriate question by some (how's your genitals?). But, hey, it's all in the perception, right? Like so many things. But mostly, in poetic reference, it does refer to relatives and it is said that if one dreams of an injury to one's piko it is an omen of the death of a close relative. I would take it to mean that one of my close relatives got one of those piko rings. A bellybutton pierce. Ouch.I s that like taking a pin and poking it at a relative?

Ku'u ewe, ku'u piko, ku'u iwi, ku'u koko - my umbilical cord, my navel, my bones, my blood (said of a very close relative)

Mō ka piko - cut is the umbilical cord (a friendly relation between closely related persons has been severed)

Also, after women gave birth they would take the piko and hide it in certain crevices of rocks (I don't think that any rock would do since there are some areas/rocks well known for this practice) to ensure their baby's good health. If the piko was taken by a rat, then it was thought that the child would grow up to be a thief, much like a rat.

He piko pau 'iole - an umbilical cord taken by a rat (a chronic thief)

My babies' piko are all well taken care of, thank you very much. Don't want no thieves around!

Friday, August 14, 2009


unfolded, as flower petals; blossoming, opening up; spread, as a turkey's tail; blooming, as a youth just past adolescence; shining forth, as a light, appearing clear, as a thought; evolved, developed.

What a beautiful word. And to mean such different, yet similar things. a blooming flower, a male turkey's tail (and I do see lots of turkeys in Paʻauilo), a child emerging into the next stage of life. All a blossoming forth into new beauty.

We mostly hear mohala referring to the blossoming of flowers, as in the Hālau Mohala 'Ilima (hālau of blossoming 'ilima), with kumu hula Mapuana de Silva.

I mohala nō ka lehua i ke keʻekeʻehi ʻia e ka ua - lehua blossoms unfold because the rains tread upon them. (It is the rain that brings forth the lehua blossoms. So do gentle words bring forth much that is desired).

Ua hoʻomohala ʻia kona naʻau kānalua - his doubting heart began to feel courage.


1. ink sac in octopus or squid.
2. scar of a scrofulous sore;
to be so scarred.
3. aerial tubers of bitter yam.

Most of us know that the ʻalaʻala is the ink sac of the heʻe (well those of us who eat or make raw squid) used when making raw squid (MY FAVORITE!). But there is another translation of ʻalaʻala and that is of a sore, thought to perhaps refer to tuberculosis. My main reason for having this as today's word is to share a small lesson in culture, through the following ʻōlelo noʻeau:

Mai hāʻawi wale i ka lei o ka ʻāʻī o ʻalaʻala. - do not give a lei too freely lest a scrofulous sore appear on the neck.

Sometimes when we have a lei we give it away to whomever we wish. Well, in days gone by (and today, too, by those who have maintained this practice) one never gave a lei he/she wore, away freely. Usually a "worn lei", if given away, was given to someone closely related. And the reason for this was that once you have worn a lei, your mana and your essence transcends into the lei. It becomes a part of you. You have to be careful with your personal belongings, which holds your mana, because you wouldn't want it to fall into the hands of a sorcerer, such as a kahuna ʻanāʻanā, who could use something of yours to cause you harm.

Mai ʻalaʻala paha auaneʻi i ka ua o Waʻahila -almost received a scar on the neck, perhaps, from the Wa'ahila rain. (he just escaped trouble)


dry, dried up, evaporated, juiceless, desicrated; stale, as bread; drought, dryness

Not to be confused with malolo, as in Malolo syrup, maloʻo refers to anything on the dry side (although malolo also refers to low, as in the tide).

iʻa maloʻo - dry fish

kai maloʻo - dry sea (in other words, low tide)

Hereʻs an ʻōlelo noʻeau using maloʻo:

Maloʻo ka lani, wela ka honua - when the sky is dry, the earth is parched.

Here's another I think you will enjoy:

Mai nānā i ka lāʻau maloʻo, ʻaʻohe mea loaʻa o laila - do not pay attention to a dry tree for there is nothing to be gained from it. (Nothing is learned from an ignoramous)

Wow! How's that for some imagery! clever, simply clever. Not too nice, but definitely vivid! Are there some lāʻau maloʻo hanging around your workplace?


nvt. to glance, look quickly; glance

There are so many intricacies in the Hawaiian language that are being overlooked today, despite our efforts of revitalization. Most people who learn the language today use nānā for the generic word "look." But there are other words to describe different ways to look. One of these is ʻalawa, or ʻalaʻalawa. to glance or look quickly.

The following 'ōlelo no'eau gives a good picture of what ʻalawa means. And it also shows the poetic adeptness of the Hawaiians. Why come out and say there's a thief in the midst when you can make reference to something in nature and in that way not be blamed outright for the insult! How clever!

Pueo maka 'ala'alawa. - Owl with eyes glancing here and there (said of one
who looks about to see what he can steal).

You've probably also heard ʻalawa used in a popular song:

ʻAlawa iho 'oe ma ka 'ao'ao, hū ana ka makani hele uluulu (from Holoholo Ka'a) - You glance downward on the side, the strong winds are blowing

If you are a Hawaiian language speaker, look up other ways to "look" and
help to make these words come alive, to keep the essence pure in our

Monday, August 10, 2009


1. nvs. Portion, fragment, part, fraction, installment; to be partial, less.
2. nvs. Of mixed blood, person of mixed blood.
3. n. A-minor in music.

When I was growing up, anyone who was "part-Hawaiian" was referred to as being hapa. And to me it was not a bad thing, it just was. It did not matter how much Hawaiian blood you had because hapa is non descript as far as amounts are concerned. But usually attached to hapa was the "other ethnicity": hapa haole - part Caucasian, or hapa pākē-part Chinese. I guess it was just understood that whoever was hapa something, was Hawaiian and that something else. I dont know if that is still understood to be the case. So many things have changed. And most people have so many other ethnicities that it would sound funny to add them all on: some people would have to go down the list--hapa haole, pākē, kepanī pukīkī, kelamania, kenemaka (Caucasian, Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, German, Danish).

The term hapa is also used when referring to fractions. If you want to get specific with the fraction or parts, it is fairly simple, especially if you know your Hawaiian numbers:

hapahā - 1/4
hapalua - 1/2
hapakolu - 1/3

Get the gist? You can get fancier:

ʻekolu hapahā - 3/4
ʻekolu hapawalu - 3/8
ʻelua hapakolu - 2/3

Here are some other "portions":
hapa nui - majority, most quorum (big portion)
hapa ʻuʻuku - minority, less (small portion)
hapa makahiki - semi annual (makahiki = year)


1. Hole, door, entrance, gate, slit, vent, opening, issue.
2. To pass through, appear, emerge, come out; to rise, as the sun.
3. To graduate.
4. To say, utter, speak.
5. To gain, win, profit; to draw interest; winnings, gain, profit.
6. Trap, snare.
7. idiom. Almost.

I bet you did not realize that there were so many meanings for the word puka. Puka, second only to pau for frequently used Hawaiian words in daily life (of course I am not counting aloha and mahalo because everyone worldwide uses these words).

If you look at the majority of the translations above you can see that they are related (now is the time for you to stop reading here and glance up and review the meanings again). You need to visualize a hole and things being able to emerge from a hole (I like to visualize a hole, like a blowhole, and water shooting out of it). Visualize the sun coming out of the hole. Visualize a graduate reaching for the stars out of the hole. Visualize what you see emerging from a hole (i.e., words leaving your mouth). Visualize the winnings which will "take you out of the hole". You just have to keep in mind the visual.

There is one way that puka is misused. Sometimes what we think of as a puka is actually a lua, a pit. Take, for example, what we would refer to as a hole in the ground. In English we call it a hole (like a pothole) but in Hawaiian it is not a perforated thing where you can see light at the other end. It is a lua, or a pit of sorts. Much like a toilet. No light at the other end.

Puka mai ka lā i ka hikina - The sun rises in the east (the first line of a mele kaʻi, the mele done when a hālau hula emerges onto the stage)

He puka ko ka lole wāwae - The pants have a hole (puka pants!).

E puka ana ʻo Kaipo i kēia makahiki aʻe - Kaipo is going to graduate next year.

Puka maila ʻoe, ua kala kahiko i Lehua - Now that you have come, [what we had] has long departed to Lehua

See if you can solve this ʻōlelo nane (Hawaiian riddle): Puka kinikini, puka kinikini, ʻaʻohe ona puka e puka aku ai - a multitude of puka, a multitude of puka, but it has no puka to pass through/emerge from.

What is it?

Maka Onaona

A sweet, lovely, or tender expression of face or eyes; also said of the eyes of the kole fish.

I LOVE these two words for different reasons. First of all, I think that to refer to someone as having maka onaona is to have a great appreciation for that person. Maka refers to the eyes or face. Onaona literally means fragrant or sweet smelling. Of course, one's eyes or face cannot necessarily be fragrant but it sure can have the same effect on the soul, right? So maka onaona is another way of saying beautiful face or charming eyes.

Another reason I like these words is that the kole fish is THE best reef fish in the WORLD! Of course, that is my own humble opinion but you can double check with my friends and fmaily on Moloka'i and in Lāʻie. There is nothing better. Fried. Hot. Side order poi. The song, He ʻOno (by Bina Mossman), has a line in it about the kole fish, "ʻO ke kole ka iʻa maka onaona lā" The kole is the fish with the sweet. Yes indeed.

So nothing wrong with calling your favorite person maka onaona. Either way it is a compliment!


To keep asking questions; inquisitive, curious, plying with frivolous questions.

In relation to last week's word, mahaʻoi, we have its trusty companion, nīele. I received a few emails wanting clarification.

I know if you were raised in Hawaiʻi, youʻve heard this word. Heck, I would put money that it was directed at you! What child was not called nīele by their parents, grandparents, or siblings? Gee, my mom still calls me nīele at times! Whereas mahaʻoi refers to boldness or rudeness, nīele is just plain old inquisitive. Too many questions. And not very thoughtful (as in taking the time to really think about it first before asking) ones at that. In Hawaiian style, when learning something new, the rule of thumb is to watch, listen and keep your mouth shut. Nānā ka maka, hoʻolohe ka pepeiao, paʻa ka waha. And that is how you learn. You do not learn by talking all the time, asking frivolous questions because what that really means is that you are not paying attention! If someone calls you nīele it means that you are asking too many unnecessary questions and not paying close enough attention.

He keiki nīele ʻoe - You are an inquisitive child.

Nīele kēlā wahine - That woman is full of questions.


1. nvs. Swollen, distended; swelling; to swell; dropsy, edema. 2. n. A variety of sweet potato. 3. n. A kind of seaweed.

I remember whenever I was hāpai, unfailingly, my body, in one way or another, and sometimes from head to toe, would get all pehu, swollen. That is when I first learned the word, because really, we do not really learn something until it has some relevance or purpose to our own life, right? So, pehu I was. And the kumu at my keiki's school (Pūnana Leo at the time) told me to soak my feet in wāpine (lemongrass-another new word I learned and never forgot because of its immediate use) infused hot water. And any opportunity they had they would lomi my wāwae in an effort to get the fluids flowing properly. Love that kind of school.

Figuratively, pehu refers to one who is swollen with pride or conceit as well as one who is longing to eat or is hungry. In fact, someone who is REALLY hungry could be referred to as makapehu (swollen eyes, or eyes big with hunger).

Today I talked with two friends who are both experiencing bouts of gout. UGH! If you are local, chances are you know someone who has gout. Very painful. Thus the inspiration for today's He Momi because when I looked up the word for gout, guess what it is...

wāwae pehu - swollen foot/feet

Here are some other terms or sentences that use the word pehu:

Kai pehu - surging sea
Moaʻe pehu - a strong Moaʻe wind
Ua pehu kona lima i ka meli - Her hand was swollen because of the bee [sting].
E pehu ana kou ʻōpū - Your stomach is going to swell.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


v. bold, impertinent, impudent, insolent, nervy, cheeky, rude, forward, presumptuous, saucy, brazen.

Anyone who has heard this word knows it is not a good thing. While boldness may be appreciated by some, it goes against the grain of the "Hawaiian way" (unless, of course, you are in battle). Mahaʻoi literally means "sharp temple" or in other words, you are sticking your head out, in a place it does not belong.

Being self-assertive and aggressive is mahaʻoi. Some examples of being mahaʻoi would be dominating a conversation, volunteering to do something in an attention seeking way (this one reason why you donʻt see a lot of Hawaiians volunteering to do things. Seriously. As a teacher, I know this to be true. But approach the parents directly asking them to help and they will be there in a split second), going through someoneʻs house, inspecting their rooms and possessions. These are all VERY mahaʻoi. Anytime you feel the urge to say "Mind your own business" itʻs because someone is being mahaʻoi. It is one of the reasons that assimilation of Hawaiian culture to Western culture can be so difficult, because not being mahaʻoi, at times, can leave you in the dust. Sometimes itʻs a difficult thing for us to weigh...should I be more forward, which goes against my grain, and push my way to the front of the line and make myself heard, which feels uncomfortable? Its a daily struggle for some.

Mai mahaʻoi - Do not be "so bold".
He kanaka mahaʻoi ʻo Kealoha - Kealoha is a brazen/nosey/forward person.


1. n. Octopus (Polypus sp.), commonly known as squid
2. To slide, surf, slip, flee (Kin. 14.10).
3. To melt, flow, drip, soften; to skim, as milk.
4. To hang down, as fruit; to sag; to beat bearfruit.
5. Line that supports the mast, stay.

We refer to heʻe as squid in Hawaiʻi, but the true squid is a mūheʻe. I suppose, though, as long as everyone here in Hawaiʻi knows what is meant when we say squid though we mean octopus. I guess it doesnʻt matter, right? Heʻe is octopus. Heʻe also means to slide or slip. The name Waiheʻe can translate "slippery water". Heʻe also means to melt - ua heʻe ke hau - the ice melted.

As a point of interest, the head if the heʻe is known in Hawaiian as a , and not "poʻo" which is the general term for head, like the one on top of our necks. The tentacles of heʻe are known as ʻaweʻawe and not wāwae, or legs, as we have on our bodies.

Interesting to note that "wahaheʻe" or "slippery mouth" refers to someone who lies. Here is one of my favorite ʻōlelo noʻeau: He waha kou o ka heʻe - Yours is the mouth of an octopus (in other words, you are a LIAR!)

Here are a couple more ʻōlelo noʻeau that refer to the heʻe of the sea:

Ka iʻa pipili i ka lima - the fish that sticks to the hand. This refers to the way the tentacles with their suction cups stick and slide over your hand.

Pua ke kō, kū mai ka heʻe - When the sugar cane flowers, the heʻe season is here.

Before the heʻe can be eaten, raw or cooked, it is always a good practice to pound it and rub it with salt to remove the wale (slime). The pounding also helps to soften up or tenderize the meat. Today, people usually put a papaya leaf or two in the bottom of the bucket before pounding because the papaya contains a tenderizer. Just add some Hawaiian salt and hold onto the and pound away until the ʻaweʻawe start to curl! My mouth is already starting to water! Heʻe maka, or raw squid, is my favorite of all the raw foods to eat. And it tastes best when the ʻalaʻala or the ink sac of the heʻe is used as a part of the ingredients mixed in, along with ʻinamona, or kukui nut relish. ʻOno!


n. 1. Younger brother or sister or closely related younger cousin, often spoken affectionately, Pōkiʻi ka ua, ia i ka lehua, the rain a younger brother, raining on the lehua flowers [the rain and lehua are dear to each other]. hoʻopōkiʻi To claim a pōkiʻi relationship; to behave as a pōkiʻi. (PEP pootiki) 2. Second or final brewing, as of ti root or sugar cane. 3. Name of the canoe of the owner of the net used in mālolo or iheihe fishing. Rare.

The word pōkiʻi, in and of itself, gives a glimpse into the Hawaiian culture. There is an implied sense of responsibility for older children to watch over, care for, and teach younger siblings. In fact, this holds true today in much the same way that it did many many years ago. Hawaiian children are expected to care for the younger children without being told and this is not restricted to their own siblings. This applies to all younger keiki within the extended ʻohana.
It is understood that the pōkiʻi must listen to the older siblings much like they listen to their own parents. And if the pōkiʻi does something wrong, frequently it is the older sibling that gets the scoldings. Many teenagers (and younger) stay home from school to take care of the younger ones when the parent(s) cannot do so. I remember visiting a charter school on Kauaʻi recently where the older siblings actually brought babies to class and these little ones were accepted into the school! Now that is a Hawaiian school, honoring the values of the ʻohana, including the little ones...better that than have the older siblings miss school.

Kamehameha I uttered a saying (well known today) that I take to heart in these trying and times for Hawaiians:

"I mua e nā pōkiʻi a inu i ka wai ʻawaʻawa. ʻAʻohe hope e hoʻi mai ai"
Go foward my younger siblings and drink of the bitter waters. There is no retreating.

We, as a people, are drinking of those bittler waters and frankly, Iʻm tired of it. I want some sweet water. But we cannot retreat, we cannot give up. Our battles are laid out in front of us and we must continue to drink that water, let it quench our thirst, however bitter it may be, and move forward, i mua.
Educate yourself, learn about the Akaka Bill, read the Ka Wai Ola o OHA, learn Hawaiian, take Hawaiian studies classes, get out and volunteer at a loʻi kalo or in our forests or at school in a Hawaiian community. We cannot sit idly by, giving the responsibility to others. We need to take care for our pōkiʻi by getting involved and DOING something, we need to mālama our kuleana, take care of our responsibilities.

E mālama kākou a pau i nā pōkiʻi - Let us all take care of [our] younger siblings.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


nvi. Recovered from sickness; well, after sickness; to get well, convalesce; filling out, as after loss of weight; sprouting, as a bud.

Everyone seems to be getting or recovering from an illness, either a sore throat, a cold, or some strain of flu. There are those whose illnesses are a bit more serious. So I thought it might be useful to learn a new word: polapola. In English, when someone is recovering from illness, we just say that they are getting better, recovering, getting well. In Hawaiian, polapola is just the word you are looking for when you want to say that you or someone you know is recovering or getting better. And what happens frequently when we get sick is that we lose weight (one aspect of being sick that I welcome) and a lot of people just do not look the same until they start "filling out" again. When that starts happening, you can refer to that "filling out" as polapola.

Ke polapola nei ʻo ia - S/he is getting better.

Ua polapola maikaʻi kaʻu moʻopuna - My grandchild recovered well.

E polapola ana au - I am going to get better.

Donʻt forget to become an "official" follower by signing up on the right hand bar of this website!

Monday, August 3, 2009

kau wela

n. Summer, hot season.

We have two seasons in Hawai‘i: Kau wela and kau hoʻoilo. Summer and winter. In fact, the whole notion of "season" is rather foreign to Hawaiians. Kau is another word that refers to summer, although it is also the general term for season.

How many children in our schools here in Hawaiʻi realize we have just two seasons? How many children would be able to list some of the specific characteristics of kau wela and hoʻoilo? How many would be able to say when kau wela begins and hoʻoilo begins? And yet when we were elementary school students, we all got drilled on the four seasons, summer, fall, winter, spring. We learned about leaves changing colors and falling, even though we donʻt even have that here in Hawaiʻi. We learned and read tons of stories about snow and m aking snow angels. Not to mention learning about penguins and icebergs. We learned about apples but apples donʻt grow in our back yard (unless you live in Keanakolu up Mānā Road which has great apples!). Donʻt get me wrong. I think itʻs important to get a broad view of our world. But more importantly, first teach us about our own ʻāina and help us to be cognizant of what is right here in our own backyard. Teach about mountain apple and how mango came to Hawaiʻi. And then from that we can scaffold all of this other knowledge about other lands. Then we can perhaps understand why the climate is the way it is here and not in Alaska. And the importance of apples and oranges in North America.

We canʻt put an exact date and time on when kau wela is and when hoʻoilo occurs. But we definitely know when the humpback whales arrive we are entering hoʻoilo, right? And they never come on the same date. They know when the waters will begin to get too cold for them up North. And when the plumerias begin to bloom, it must be approaching kau wela.

We look forward to both kau wela and hoʻoilo here for many reasons. For me, I cannot wait for mango and lychee season, announcing that kau wela has arrived. And what about big surf and whale watching? Those are things I look forward to in hoʻoilo. And during that same season you can guarantee that the sand will disappear in certain areas, and the kōlea, or golden plover, will arrive from Alaska to get all fat before returning to their homes up North.

For now, I will enjoy what is left of kau wela, despite the extreme heat and humidity. It is always a good excuse to drop everything and head for the beach.

Makemake au i ke kau wela - I like summer.
Hānau ʻia kuʻu mau moʻopuna i ke kau wela - My grandchildren were born in the summer.


n. Result, conclusion, sequel, ending, destiny, fate, consequence, effect, last

Sometimes (actually, a lot of times) the Hawaiian language is so much simpler and to the point than English. Let's use today's He Momi for example. Look at all the meanings. They all mean relatively the same thing: that which comes in the end. That's exactly what hopena means: ending. We can take the "root" word of hopena which is hope (which is not pronounced like hope as in faith, hope and love. This one is pronounced like Hope Joe for you old timers in Hawai'i). Hope literally means after, behind, last, late. The -na is something like a suffix, kind of like end-ing.

What made me come up with today's He Momi, hopena? Just thinking about the end of my most memorable summer, a summer in which I did nothing work wise. Well, maybe just a little, but for the first time ever, I vacationed, I went for long walks every morning, I enjoyed my time alone, with family, and friends.

I hopena pule maika'i - Have a good weekend.
E 'ike ana 'oe i ka hopena o ia hana - You will see the result of those actions.
He hopena luahine/'elemakule - the result of being an old lady/man