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Transforming Hawai‘i

Glossary of Hawaiian Terms

‘aha ali‘i

council of chiefs

ahu

boundary marker

ahupua‘a

basic local community land division, under the control of a lesser chief known as an ali‘i ai ahupua‘a

‘āina

land in general

ai noa

‘free eating’ – eating to deliberately break and challenge traditional food kapu practised by Ka‘ahumanu and her followers in 1819

akua

a god, spirit or deity

ali‘i

chief

ali‘i ‘ai ahupua‘a

chief of the basic local community

ali‘i ‘ai moku

district chief

ali‘i akua

god king, term reserved for chiefs of the highest rank, especially pi‘o rank

ali‘i nui

great chief, paramount chief of a discrete, unified polity, also known as a mō‘ī

‘auhau

tax

‘aumakua

ancestral spirits and deities

‘awa

kava (Piper methysticum), the root of which was used to make a psychoactive beverage consumed by chiefs

haku‘āina

a landlord, most typically a konohiki or ali‘i ‘ai ahupua‘a level lesser chief

hale nauā

the house in which genealogical specialists gathered to ascertain the pedigrees of chiefs for decisions on their eligibility to join paramount chief’s households

hanai

adopted child

haole

foreigners

heiau

temple

ho‘okupu

tribute

ho‘omana

to worship, to empower through worship

hula

traditional dance in various forms

ihe

a short spear measuring from two to 2.5 metres, thrown or used to thrust

ilāmuku

officer of the paramount chief’s household responsible for maintaining the kapu associated with that household

‘ili; ‘ili lele

subdivision of an ahupua‘a

‘ili kūpono

a segment of the ‘ili land division directly controlled by the paramount chief rather than the ahupu‘a chief, the tribute from which was reserved for the paramount chief

ka‘a-kaua

sub-commanders within each retinue

kāhili

fly whisks or standards; symbols of chiefly rank

kahului

crescent formation with horns pointing towards the enemy

kahuna

person with specialist knowledge of valued skills, usually associated with favour from the gods such as canoe makers, herbal medicine specialists and priests

kahuna kuni

sorcery priests

kahuna nui

high priest

kahuna pule

priest, religious specialist

kalaimoku

war councillor, senior military adviser to rulers

kalana

subdivision of a moku (district)

kalo

taro (Colocasia esculenta)

kanaka

commoners recruited by ali‘i for their martial prowess

Kānaka Maoli

indigenous Hawaiians

kanaka no lua kaua

ali‘i and maka‘āinana who lived with the chief and did not desert him in battle

kapa

tapa, cloth made form the bark of the wauke (paper mulberry plant, Broussonetia papyrifera)

kapu

permanent or temporary sacred status through connection to the gods

kapu moe

prostrating taboo requiring commoners and lower ranked chiefs to lie prostrate in the presence of a high-status sacred chief

kaukau ali‘i

collective name for lesser grades of chiefs

kāula

prophet

kāuwa

underclass enslaved by their enemies or descended from other kāuwa. Used for human sacrifices at luakini heiau (temples)

ko‘a

a fishing shrine dedicated to the god Kū‘ula

kō‘ele

land division worked by commoners, all the produce of which was reserved for the benefit of the konohiki and ali‘i

konohiki

land manager for an ahupua‘a land unit on behalf of the ali‘i ‘ai ahupua‘a (chief in charge of the ahupua‘a)

kū‘auhau

genealogical specialist within the paramount chief’s retinue responsible for memorising the genealogies and mo‘olelo of the ali‘i

kuhina

governors

kukulu

straight battleline

kula

dryland cultivation areas especially associated with ‘uala (sweet potato) cultivation

kupuna

elder, ancestor

lo‘i

irrigated pond-field for growing taro

loko i‘a (loko, loko kuapā)

fishpond on reef flat enclosed by a stone wall

luakini heiau

temple where human sacrifice was offered

luakini kaua

temple dedicated to the war god Kū

luakini po‘okanaka

temple where human sacrifice was offered

māhele

the land reform process from 1846 to 1855 which replaced traditional landholding procedures with Western-style individual tenure parcels held by the Hawaiian Crown, the government, and individuals

maka‘āinana

commoner majority below the chiefly classes

makahiki

four month, rainy season period of ritual, celebrations, and chiefly tax collection commencing when Pleiades became visible in November, and dedicated to Lono, the god of rain-fed agriculture

makawalu

battle formation of small flexible groups for broken terrain

mālama

care for, management of resources or people

malo

loincloth

mana

signs of the gods’ favour manifest in good fortune to people eliciting respectful treatment of individuals

moemoe

night attacks

moe-pu

ali‘i’s chosen companions in death

mō‘ī

paramount chief, see also ali‘i nui

moku

polities

mo‘o

a land unit subdivision of an ‘ili land unit

mo‘okū‘ahuhau

genealogical heritage

mo‘olelo

traditional historical account

naha

one of the highest chiefly ranks

nī‘aupi‘o (Pi‘o)

close consanguineous marriage between high-status chiefs resulting in offspring of the most sacred rank, the ali‘i akua or ali‘i kapu

noa

temporarily or permanently free of kapu (sacred status) by separation from the divine

‘okana (also known as poko)

a subdistrict incorporating several ahupua‘a

pahoa

a hardwood dagger measuring up to 60 centimetres

pahupū

literally, cut in half, name given to special group of Maui warriors in the era of Kahekili who tattooed half of their body with black dye

pa‘i‘ai

storable form of taro produced by steaming, mashing and pressing taro corm into hard dry cakes

palaoa pae

ruler’s right to whalebone washed up on shore

peleleu

new larger, sturdy canoe design commissioned by Kamehameha after loss of much of his fleet between O‘ahu and Kaua‘i in 1796

pikoi

used as a throwing club to bring down fleeing enemy

poi

cooked and mashed corm of taro with water added

poi-po

ambushes

poko (also known as ‘okana)

a subdistrict incorporating several ahupua‘a

polulu

a long hardwood pike of up to six metres

pua‘a

pig

pukaua

commander in chief

pu‘uhonua

place of refuge and safety in times of conflict

pu‘uku nui

chief treasurer

toa

warrior

‘uala

sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas)

wahine

a woman, female

waiwai

literally plentiful water, applied to wealth in goods or property

wohi

high chiefly rank exempt from the prostrating tapu


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