Avid Hawaii Information Guide

Hawaiian Culture

Hawaii is such an unique island. It is part of the United States, the 50th State. It is the island of immigrants from all over the world.

History and People of Hawaii

The first settlers were known to be by Polynesians sailing from other Pacific islands between 300 and 600 A.D.. The earliest settlements in the Hawaiian Islands are generally believed to have been made by Polynesians who reached Hawaii using large double-hulled canoes. They brought with them pigs, dogs, chickens, taro, sweet potatoes, coconut, banana, sugarcane, and other plants and animals. Several theories describe migration to Hawaii. The "one-migration" theory suggests a single settlement. A variation on the one-migration theory instead suggests a single, continuous settlement period. Several "multiple migration" theories exist. One variation suggests that the original migration could have been followed by settlers from the Marquesas Islands, and then later by Tahitians.

On January 18, 1778 British Captain James Cook and his crew, while attempting to discover the Northwest Passage between Alaska and Asia, encountered the islands, surprised to find anything so far north in the Pacific. He named them the "Sandwich Islands", after the fourth Earl of Sandwich. Members of this expedition described the population of the islands as abundant, handsome and healthy. It is now estimated that more than one million people inhabited the archipelago at that time. Unfortunately the British brought many new infectious diseases to the islands, in particular tuberculosis and venereal diseases that quickly propagated through the locals.In 1786, seven years after Cook, a French frigate arrived in Hawai'i and reported that most of the islanders were very sick. By 1832 only 130.000 remained.

Formation of the Hawaiian Kingdomhawaiian culture

Hawaii was a native kingdom throughout most of the 19th century, when the expansion of the sugar industry and the pineapple industry meant increasing U.S. business and political involvement. Kamehameha I united the islands into a single kingdom for the first time in 1810 with the help of foreign weapons and advisors. The monarchy adopted a flag similar to the one used as the present flag of the State of Hawaii, with the Union Flag in the canton (top quarter next to the flagpole) and eight horizontal stripes (alternating white, red, blue, from the top), representing the eight major islands.

In May 1819, Prince Liholiho became King Kamehameha II. Under pressure from his co-regent and stepmother, Kaʻahumanu, he abolished the kapu system that had ruled life in the islands. He signaled this revolutionary change by sitting down to eat with Kaʻahumanu and other women of chiefly rank, an act forbidden under the old system—see ʻAi Noa. Kekuaokalani, a cousin who thought he was to share power with Liholiho, organized supporters of the kapu system, but his forces were defeated by Kaʻahumanu and Liholiho in December 1819 at the battle of Kuamoʻo.


hawaiian cultureDynastic rule by the Kamehameha family ended in 1872 with the death of Kamehameha V. After the short reign of Lunalilo, the House of Kalākaua came to the throne. These transitions were by election of candidates of noble birth. Princess Ka'iulani tried very hard to prevent her country from becoming part of the United States. I1893,3, Queen Liliuokalani was deposed, and a year later the Republic of Hawaii was established with Sanford B. DoleSanford B. Dole as president. Following annexation (1898), Hawaii became a U.S. territory in 1900. Hawaii then became the 50th state in 1959.

History of Japanese Immigrantss hawaiian culture

In 1835, American settlers established the sugar plantation system in Hwaii, which was then an independent monarchy. The sugar plantations required large numbers of workers to cultivate and harvest the cane fields and to operate the sugar refineries. Beginning in 1852, the plantation owners imported Chinese laborers. In many ways, this "coolie" trade resembled the African slave trade.

By 1865, many of the Chinese were leaving the plantations for other jobs. Hawaii's foreign minister, a sugar planter, wrote to an American businessman in Japan seeking Japanese agricultural workers. On May 17, 1868, the Scioto sailed from Yokohama for Honolulu with 148 Japanese—141 men, six women, and two children—aboard. These laborers included samurai, cooks, sake brewers, potters, printers, tailors, wood workers, and one hairdresser. Plantation labor was harsh; the monthly wage was $4, of which the planters withheld 50 percent. The ten-hour work days were hard on the soft hands of potters, printers, and tailors. Forty of these first Japanese farm laborers returned to Japan before completion of their three-year contracts. Once back home, 39 of them signed a public statement charging the planters with cruelty and breach of contract.

On May 27, 1869, the Pacific Mail Company's China brought a party of samurai, farmers, tradesmen, and four women to San Francisco. These Japanese had been displaced from their homes by the ending of the Tokugawa shogunate and the restoration of the Meiji emperor. Followers of lord Matsudaira Katamori established the 600-acre Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Farm Colony on the Sacramento River at Placerville. The colony failed in less than two years because the mulberry trees and tea seedlings perished in the dry California soil. A few of the settlers returned to Japan while the rest drifted away from the colony seeking new beginnings. Such were the origins of the first-generation Japanese ( Issei ) on Hawaiian and American shores.

The Haole (Caucasions)Hawaiian culture

When the first western visitors arrived to the islands, the Hawaiians called them “haole” . The prefix “ha” means breath  or breath of life. The suffix “ole” which means the absence of. Putting the prefix “ha” and the suffix “ole” , literally means “without life” Due to the fair skin that westerners had , the native Hawaiians  thought of the “haoles” as ghosts. The word “haole” is still used today with a little twist. A haole who is born in Hawaii, people will refer to them as  “kamaaina Haoles” or  “local Haole”.  Offsprings from interracial marriages would be called “Hapa-Haoles” or “half whites”.  Haoles who hail from the Continental US are labeled as “ Mainland Haoles” .  Caucasians new to Hawaii or Malihini should not be offended if called a Haole.  Remember that Hawaii is a melting- pot of diverse ethnicity all living in harmony amongst each other. This is what the true spirit of Aloha is all about.


The Hawaiian culture also has many superstitions and omens, which are widely known and still observed today. Rain and rainbows are considered blessings from the gods. This is especially true if it rains during weddings. Taking pork over the Pali Highway, which connects the leeward to the windward side on the island of Oahu, is considered a deed that is said to anger the gods and to bring bad luck or at least car trouble. It's still considered bad luck to bring bananas on a boat, to step over a baby who is lying on the floor and to wear a lei if you are pregnant.

Another dark omen that is more modern in nature is about the taking of lava rocks from a volcano, which will lead to being followed by bad luck. Many such rocks are known to be returned by visitors to Hawaii via mail. People often times send the rocks they collected and took home back to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park with no return addresses.

The Hawaiian culture is rich, living, mysterious and unique. It's what truly makes Hawaii special. So, when you're in Hawaii, be sure to look past the sunsets, sunshine, surf and sand and take the time to explore the culture that makes the Hawaiian Islands truly special and unforgettable.

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Among Polynesian and Melanesian peoples, a supernatural force or power that may be ascribed to persons, spirits, or inanimate objects. Mana may be either good or evil, beneficial or dangerous, but it is not impersonal; it is never spoken of except in connection with powerful beings or things. The term was first used in the 19th century in the West in connection with religion, but mana is now regarded as a symbolic way of expressing the special qualities attributed to persons of status in a hierarchical society, of providing sanction for their actions, and of explaining their failures.

MenehuneHawaiian culture

Hawaiian legend has it that many centuries ago, the Menehune were a mischievous group of small people, or dwarfs, who lived hidden in the forests and valleys of the islands before the first settlers arrived from Polynesia. These Menehune, who roamed the deep forests at night, were said to be about two feet (60 cm) tall, though some were as tiny as six inches (15 cm), small enough to fit in the palm of a hand. They enjoyed dancing, singing and archery, and their favorite foods were bananas and fish.

The Menehune have been known to use magic arrows to pierce the heart of angry people, igniting feelings of love instead. They also enjoy cliff diving, and according to local lore, they were smart, extremely strong and excellent craftsmen. They were rarely seen by human eyes, and they are credited with mighty feats of engineering and overnight construction.


Lei is a Hawaiian word for a garland or wreath. More loosely defined, a lei is any series of objects strung together with the intent to be worn. The most popular concept of a lei in Hawaiian culture is a wreath of flowers draped around the neck presented upon arriving or leaving as a symbol of affection. This concept was popularized through tourism between the Hawaiian Islands and the continental United States in the 19th and 20th centuries.Lei may be open or closed, depending on circumstance

Children and sweethearts are poetically referred to as "lei" and many ancient and modern songs and chants refer to this imagery.

A lei (nā lei is the plural in the Hawaiian language) may be composed of a pattern or series of just about anything, but most commonly consists of fresh natural foliage such as flowers, leaves, vines, fern fronds, and seeds. The most commonly used flowers are those of plumerias, ʻōhiʻa lehua, orchids, and pikake, though maile leaves, ferns, and ti leaves are extremely popular as well as traditional among hula dancers. Other types of lei may include sea or land shells, fish teeth, bones, feathers, plastic flowers, fabric, paper (including origami and monetary bills), candy, or anything that can be strung together in a series or pattern and worn as a wreath or a necklace. The Hawaiian Island of Ni'ihau is famous for its lei made of tiny gem-like shells.

The eight most common methods of making lei are:

Haku - three-ply braid incorporating additional materials. A method of making a lei by using a base material, such as softened tree bark or long leaves, and braiding it while adding the decorative plant material into each wrap of the braid. Normally used for flowers and foliage with long pliable petioles or stems.

Hili - braid or plait with only one kind of material. Most commonly made from three or more strands of supple vine or fern braided together.

Hilo - twist, double helix, intertwine. A method of making a lei by twisting two strands together to form a "rope." The popular and simple lei laʻi (ti leaf lei) is made using this method.

Hipuʻu / nipuʻu - a method of making a lei by knotting the stems of the decorative plant material and stringing the next stem through the knot. It requires a very long stem on the decorative material. Similar to a daisy chain.

Humu / humuhumu - sew to a backing, usually using a basting stitch. A method of making a lei by sewing the decorative material to a backing such as hala, laʻi, paper, or felt. Each successive row of lei material is overlapped on the previous to create a scale-like effect. Bougainvillea lei and feather hat lei often are made with this method.

Kui - pierce, piercing stitch. A method of making a lei by sewing or piercing the decorative material with a needle and stringing it onto a thread. This is probably the style with which most Westerners are familiar. This method is commonly used to string flowers such as plumeria, rose, carnation, etc.

Wili - wind, twist, crank, coil. A corkscrew-type twist, as found in a pig's tail and the seed pod of the wiliwili tree. A method of making a lei by winding fiber around successive short lengths of the decorative material. Sometimes base materials such as hala, laʻi, strands of raffia, or even strips of paper are used to make wrapping easier. Haku mele - to braid a song. A song composed out of affection for an individual is considered a lei.

HulaHawaiian culture

Hula is a uniquely Hawaiian dance accompanied by chant or song that preserves and perpetuates the stories, traditions and culture of Hawaii. Hawaiian legends tell stories of hula beginning on the islands of Molokai and Kauai. Today, this enchanting art form has become a worldwide symbol of Hawaiian culture and the beauty of Hawaii’s people. The popularity of hula has spread to the U.S. mainland, Japan and even Europe.

There are many types and styles of hula. Hula auana (modern hula) is danced to western influenced music and features a more modern and fluid style. This is the most familiar type of hula to visitors. Hula kahiko (ancient hula) is danced to dramatic chants and percussion with more traditional costumes.

Hula is traditionally taught by a kumu hula (hula teacher) in a hula halau (hula school). Visitors can get a free lesson at places like the Royal Hawaiian Center or the Waikiki Beach Walk on Oahu. If you’re brave enough, some luau shows even let you take the stage to show off your new hula skills.

Hawaiian Foods

Hawaii locals love to eat, and the islands offer a variety of comfort foods in a wide range of off-the-beaten path locations. You’ll discover the ethnic diversity of Hawaii in its distinct local dishes:


A luau (in Hawaiian, lū‘au) is a Hawaiian feast. It may feature food, such as poi, kalua pig, poke, lomi salmon, opihi, haupia, and beer; and entertainment, such as Hawaiian music and hula. Among people from Hawaii, the concepts of "luau" and "party" are often blended, resulting in graduation luaus, wedding luaus, and birthday luaus.

Here’s Oahu’s Luau Experience:

·       Hale Koa Hotel, Waikiki, Hawaii — only open to military

·       Polynesian Cultural Center, Laie, Hawaii — no alcohol served

·       Paradise Cove Luau, Kapolei, Hawaii

·       Germaine's Luau, Kapolei, Hawaii

·       Creations, Honolulu, Hawaii — held indoors in a ballroom at the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani


Other Local Food

.  A luau (in Hawaiian, lū‘au) is a Hawaiian feast. It may feature food, such as poi, kalua pig, poke, lomi salmon, opihi, haupia, and beer; and entertainment, such as Hawaiian music and hula. Among people from Hawaii, the concepts of "luau" and "party" are often blended, resulting in graduation luaus, wedding luaus, and birthday luaus.

Here’s Oahu’s Luau Experience:

·       Hale Koa Hotel, Waikiki, Hawaii — only open to military

·       Polynesian Cultural Center, Laie, Hawaii — no alcohol served

·       Paradise Cove Luau, Kapolei, Hawaii

·       Germaine's Luau, Kapolei, Hawaii

·       Creations, Honolulu, Hawaii — held indoors in a ballroom at the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani

Hawaiian Language

Hawaiian Words and Phrases

Hawaiian Trivia:

·       Did you know that the state of Hawaii is the only state with two official languages? English and Hawaiian.

·       Did you know that on the island of Niihau, the official language is Hawaiian and English is considered a foreign language. Still to this day, most of the Hawaiians live in Niihau.

·       Did you know the Hawaiian alphabet only contains 13 letters:

A, E, H, I, K, L, M, N, O, P, U, AND W. all which are phonetically pronounced.

Here in Hawaii we speak English as the primary language and Hawaiian. Although at one time the Hawaiian Language was banned after the annexation of Hawaii in 1899, a revival began in the late 70s. Today we mix Hawaiian and English in our daily conversation.This mixture of Hawaiian and English is called pidgin.

Learn to speak a new foreign language in Hawaii. To help familiarize our visitors, here are a handful of commonly used Hawaiian words.

Let's learn some Hawaiian language!

English Hawaiian English Hawaiian
family ohana traditional, old, ancient


man kane Hawaiian priest Kahuna
woman wahine ocean Kai
child keiki rascal Kolohe
Hello. Aloha to string a lei Kui
Good-bye. a hui hou  food Kau kau
Thank you. Mahalo grandmother Kupunawahine
help kokua grandfather Kupunakane
love aloha respected, elder Kupuna
native kama‘aina forbidden, sacred Kapu
sea moana/kai man Kane
house hale man, human Kanaka
sky lani native Hawaiian
long time resident
of Hawaii
moon mahina dollar, money Kala
mountain mauna sweetheart Ku'uipo
water wai power mana
pretty nani porch・terrace lanai
long, big loa rainbow anuenue
land ‘aina sun la
hole puka swim ‘au
  hula troupe Halauu  smart, intelligent Akamaii
house, home Halee  land, earth land, earth ‘ainaa
work, baywork, bay Hanaa  sharp A’aa
  foreigner, Caucasian  foreigner, Caucasian Haolee Hawaiian royaltyHawaiian royalty Ali’ii
portion, part, mix of races, such as hapa-haoleportion, part, mix of races, such as hapa-haole Hapaa  happy Hau olii
turtle Honuu ancient Hawaiian religious temple usually madancient Hawaiian religious temple usually mad
from lava rocks
hospitalityhospitality Ho’okipa to walk or
travel for fun
angry or agitated Huhu turn Hulii
group or organization Hui Hawaii’s state fish
(Hawaiian trigger fish)
- nukunukuapua’a
Hawaiian form of communication using dance Hula porch Lanai
seaweed Limu feast or party Luau
heavenly Lani bathroom or
or toilet
quick, fastquick, fast Wikiwiki crazy Loloo
fresh water Wai crazy Pupulee
woman Wahine appetizer, snack Pupuu
 cowboy Paniolo cook over hot coals Pulehuu
 cliff Pali hole Pukaa
smooth lavasmooth lava pahoehoe done, completed Pauu
deliciousdelicious Ono trash ‘Opalaa
dolphindolphin Nai’a  coconut Niuu
chant, song, singchant, song, sing Mele  beautiful, enjoyable Nani --
visitor, newcomer Malihini mythical small people who are rumored to have inhabited the Hawaiian islands before Polynesians Menehunee
towards the ocean Makai mountain Maunaa
good Maika’i  inland, towards the mountains Maukaa
     ancient Hawaiian celebration held annually with sports and religious festivities makahikii


Sunday - Lapule (lay-poo-lay )
Monday - Poach (poh-ah-kah-hee )
Tuesday - Po’alua ( poh-ah-loo-ah )
Wednesday - Po’akolu - (poh-ah-ko-loo )
Thursday - Po’aha - (poh-ah-ha )
Friday - Petaluma - (poh-ah-lee-mah )
Saturday - Po ‘aono - (poh-ah-o-no )
January - ‘Iaunuali (ee-ya-oo-new-ahlee)
February - Pepeluali (pay-pay-loo-ahlee )
March - Malaki (ma-la-key )
April - ‘Apelila ( ah-pe-lee-la )
May - Mei (may-ee)
June - Iune (ee-oo-ney )
July - Iulai (ee-oo-la-ee )
August - “aukake (ah-oo-ka-key)
September - Kepakemapa (key-pa-key-ma-pa)
October - ‘Okakopa (oh-ka-ko-pa )
November - Notepaper (no-vay-ma-pa )
December - Kekemapa (key-key-ma-pa)


Happy Thanksgiving - Hau’oli La Ho’omakika’I ( how-oh-lee la ho-o-ma-key-ee)
Happy Holidays - HAU’ OLI LANUI ( how-oh-lee la-new-ee )
Merry Christmas - MELE KALIKIMAKA ( may-lay-ka-lee-key-ma-ka )
Happy New Year - HAU’OLI MAKAHIKI HOU ( how-oh-lee ma-ka-hee-key ho )
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year - MELE KALIKIMAKA ME KA HAU ‘ OLI MAKAHIKI HOU ( may-lay-ka-lee-key-ma-ka may ka how-oh-lee ma-ka-hee-key ho)
Happy Birthday - HAU ‘ OLI LA HANAU ( how-oh-lee la ha-now)
Happy Anniversary - HAU ‘ OLI LA HO ‘ OMANA ‘ O ( how-oh-lee la ho-o-ma-na-o )
Happy retirement - HAU ‘OLI LA HO ‘OMAHA LOA ( how-oh-lee la ho-o-ma-ha low-a )
Happy Sweet 16 - HAU ‘ OLI MOMONA ‘UMI KUMAONO ( how-oh-lee mo-mo-na oo-me ku-ma-o-no)