Do you know what Hawai‘i means?

Even here in Hawai‘i, many say the word daily without really knowing. To them, it is just a name.

In recent years I have been taught to think of the name of my home as a kind of mission statement. I had the opportunity to share why, within my response to a comment left for me this morning by Tim Milburn of (student leaders incorporated – great blog! – do visit Tim there.) Mahalo nui Tim; thank you so much for bringing these thoughts back to mind for me.

This simple lesson — learning the meaning of a name — has caused me to think in different ways about my home, a home I had too often took for granted. In particular, I am very grateful to two gentlemen for the lessons they have shared with me about the name Hawai‘i and the concept of Aloha ‘Ä€ina: love of our land. They are Peter Apo, the Director of NaHHA’s Hawaiian Hospitality Institute, and master navigator Nainoa Thompson, who wrote the Foreword of my book, Managing with Aloha. The very first words Nainoa wrote were these:

“Those of us who live in Hawai‘i know we live in an extraordinary place. There is nothing like this place we call Hawai‘i because it is home. And like any home, Hawai‘i has to be cared for.”

The meaning of Hawai‘i is in this comment conversation.

A pdf of the Foreword to MWA by Nainoa Thompson.

More about Nainoa Thompson.

More about Peter Apo.

Where do you live?

Learn the meaning of the place name of your home, and allow that simple lesson to give you a renewed sense of place and deep appreciation for the land that sustains you.

My street is called Auhili Loop: Auhili means to turn off course, to wander or deviate from the normal path. It gives me thoughts of the road less traveled, and I’ve come to think of the house I have on Auhili Loop as a place to be different, to experiment and explore in complete comfort and safety, a place to continually try new things and keep changing.

My neighborhood is called Waikōloa: I live on the side of a mountain, and the wind can be fierce: Waikōloa is the name the ancient Hawaiians gave to the cold wind that comes down the mountain between the saddle of Mauna Kea (white mountain, so named for the snow that normally crowns her highest summit) and Mauna Loa. So there is also a Waikōloa on O‘ahu, for this was the name of the cold wind associated with Mt. Ka‘ala. Loa is long — the wind can be relentless. (Thus Mauna Loa means long mountain, named for her gracefully sloping profile.)

My island is called Hawai‘i: it has the same name as our state, and it is the largest of the island chain. All the others could sit on it, and there would still be room to spare.

An editorial note on MWA: In my book, we used Hawaii for the name of our state, and Hawai‘i for the name of my island in order to make it easier for the reader to know which I was referring to (Nainoa’s Foreword is the exception). If you are a stickler about it, Hawai‘i is what is correct for both.

If you would like to share the kaona (deeper hidden meaning) of your connection to the place you call home, please do! The comments are waiting for you here so you can have a place to celebrate it.

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