Hawaiian words are complex and have many meanings, depending on the context in which they are used. Each word or phrase also carries kaona – hidden meaning or deeper layers of meaning.
Here are a few commonly used words and some basic translations and uses.
‘Ãina : Land.
Aloha : Love, compassion, hello, goodbye.
ALO~ the presence of spirit + HA ~ the breath of life.
Aloha is greeting & acknowledging the spirit & the life of who/what you are addressing. I recognize you as life spirit.
The joyful (oha) sharing (alo) of life energy (ha) in the present (alo)
HA : Breath, Breath of Life
Honi : traditional sacred and honoring aspect of greeting of Native Hawaiian spirituality & culture. Exchanging the HA breath, the pure breath. Greeting & acknowledging the Spirit & the Life. I recognise you as Life Spirit
Ho’oponopono : to make right, more right
Huna : minute particle, grain, tiny bit, small, hidden, hidden secret.
Kahuna : A master in any field or profession related to Hawaiian culture.
Eg of healing, navigation, lomilomi, canoe building, astronomy etc
NB : Mis-used in modern Western cultures to denote a type of massage
Kuleana : responsibility
Kumu : teacher, source
Kupuna : Elder, grandparent, ancestor
Kūpuna : (Nā Kūpuna) plural of the ancestors. Commonly used when speaking of the ancestors in the
Lokahi : Unity
Lomi : To rub, press, squeeze, knead
Lomilomi : refers to traditional Hawaiian forms of massage & healing methods. ( It does not refer to massage in general.)
Mahalo : Thankyou
Mālama : To care for , Nurture, Preserve
Mālama ‘Ãina : an integral and important Hawaiian value – to care for, nurture, love and respect the land.
Mana : Spiritual power/energy of people, places, object;, authority; sometimes used to refer to supernatural or divine power.
‘Ohana : Literally family, one’s blood relatives or kin, however commonly understood in a much wider sense, to include, friends, colleagues, classmates etc. It literally means “all from the shoots”. Deeper understanding comes from ’oha from the sacred Kalo (taro) plant, ‘Oha means the shoots growing form the corm of the kalo plant and it signifies that all ‘ohana come from the same root. No matter how distantly ancient Hawaiians were related, they recognized that they all came from the same root and therefore were all part of the same family.
Oli : Chant
Pa’a Kai : Sea Salt
Alaea Salt: Pa’a kai mixed with red clay (‘Alaea, rich in iron oxide)
Pilikia : Trauma and drama
Pono : Excellence, rightness, goodness, ethical, moral
Protocol : Healing Practices/Procedures, Appropriate behaviour, formality, respect and honouring when in the presence of Kanaka Maoli ( Native Hawaiians) , Kupuna (elders), Kumu (teachers) and Sacred Sites. Respecting traditional and cultural practices of Native Hawaiian peoples.