Wednesday, August 5, 2009


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.

1 comment:

  1. Imua e nā pōkiʻi a inu i ka wai ʻawaʻawa. ʻAʻohe hope e hoʻi mai ai. I agree - itʻs time to hoʻomau, imua, no matter what. Mahalo.