Ho`okupu – to sprout, grow, increase; To cause growth, to sprout

Ho`okupu – tribute, tax, ceremonial gift giving [as] to a chief as a sign of honor and respect;

                to pay such a tribute

Pukui, Mary Kawena, Samuel H. Elbert. Hawaiian Dictionary. UH Press, Honolulu. 1986.


Ho`okupu is often recognized as an offering or a gift, do not confuse ho`okupu as a gift [makana], see below.  It is a physical contribution of an individual or group request for acknowledgement from a specific deity or source.  Ho`okupu is used to ensure growth, increase mana or cause to sprout; your ho`okupu could be your voice [oli], a kinolau [physical manifestation of deity i.e. awa, kalo, i`a] or something that is made by or precious to the individual or group making the request.


A ho`okupu is an offering of symbolic significance for the occasion.  It may be a certain type of food or plant, a song or chant, perhaps even a rock or water from your homeland.  Sometimes the item is dictated by the particular ceremony, other times, by what the individual feels is appropriate.  In offering the ho`okupu, as the word indicates, one asks for growth; that one’s request be granted; that there be a reciprocation; that there be an exchange of mana or life force.


Ho`okupu is a traditional protocol among the Kanaka Maoli `O Hawai`i [indigenous people of Hawai`i] that is dictated by hö`ihi [respect] for the host, land, ancestors or gods.  It establishes a connection between the giver and the receiver that is culturally appropriate.


Some examples of ho`okupu being offered are as follows:

A group of students went to visit a wahi pana, a place of historical or cultural significance, in this instance, an old Hawaiian village site.   They were asked to bring a ho`okupu to offer to the ancestors of the village that they, the students, may receive the gift of knowledge of that wahi pana.

When visiting the volcano region, many people offer a ho`okupu at the crater of Halema`uma`u.  This is seen as a way of showing respect for the spirits of the region, particularly Pele, the goddess of the volcano.

Prior to setting out to sea, fishermen would offer a ho`okupu to their god, as an offering for an abundant catch.




Makana: gift, present; reward, award, donation, prize; to give a gift or donate.

Pukui, Mary Kawena, Samuel H. Elbert. Hawaiian Dictionary. UH Press, Honolulu. 1986.


The giving of a makana is another traditional practice of the Hawaiian people.  Whenever one visits family or friends, it is customary to bring a gift of any sort.  This act of sharing connects the visitor with the host and is seen as an act of aloha [kindness] and mälama [caring].  Aloha and mälama were two important values that epitomized the Hawaiian consciousness.




Kapu kai – ceremonial sea bath for purification, purification by sea water as after contact with a corpse or by women after menstruation.


Kapu – taboo, prohibition, special privilege, sacredness, consecrated


Kai – sea, sea water, seaward, brackish water

Pukui, Mary Kawena, Samuel H. Elbert. Hawaiian Dictionary. UH Press, Honolulu. 1986.


The following description of kapu kai is taken from; Nana I Ke Kumu vol. I pg.122


Kapu kai – is the ceremonial bath taken in the sea or in other salt water.  This was done to purify oneself after evil or defilement, physical or spiritual, and to remove the kapu (taboo) under which the person usually came because of this defilement.  The kapu kai was done in privacy and with prayers.  Women took this kapu kai after each menstrual period because menstrual blood was considered defiling.  The bath might be taken after contact with a corpse, also considered a defiling object.  Kapu kai was a precautionary measure to insure purification if evil or defilement existed.


Individuals, even today, sometimes take kapu kai.  The belief is that the ceremonial bath is most beneficial when it is done for five consecutive days.  Kapu kai is sometimes taken periodically for general improvement of physical or spiritual health, even if there is no feeling of having been defiled or made kapu.

A child or seriously ill person could be given the ceremonial bath by someone else.  A present day example of this came to attention when a woman was hospitalized and her father came early every morning to bathe her.  The father not only believed his daughter’s life was endangered by some evil that kapu kai could remove, but he invested that bath with a second significance.  He felt that he might, at the same time, offer his life as a substitute for his daughters.”





Kanaka Makua - Adult, mature person; to behave or speak as an adult; to become adult or

                     to obtain the strength and maturity of an adult

Pukui, Mary Kawena, Samuel H. Elbert. Hawaiian Dictionary. UH Press, Honolulu. 1986.


The definition of kanaka makua settled upon by the Hawaiian Leadership Task Force [HLTF] closely follows that given by Mary Kawena Pukui.


Kanaka Makua:

A person who is emotionally and mentally mature, a person,

even though a child, who demonstrates mature behavior.


A thoughtful Hawaiian hopes that his/her children will grow up

to be kanaka makua.


A kanaka makua takes responsibility; he controls his temper;

he does not jump into things; he is not a scatterbrain.


A kanaka makua realizes that anger can cause hihia [entanglement] or

an ever widening damaging network of ill feeling,

but a cool-headed person must have an equally warm heart. 

A kanaka makua is kind; he is thoughtful and senses the feelings of others.


A kanaka makua is hospitable and holds a temperament of sharing and giving.  He shows this in a  way that is personable, concerned and comfortable.


A kanaka makua is humble, cooperative and loyal to family. 

He is equally courteous and gracious.


A kanaka makua is admired for his achievements, his perfection and courage.  The Hawaiians had no use for cowards and held in esteem the sailor,

the fisherman and the warrior. 

Industry, excellence and skillfulness were also attributes of a kanaka makua.


The kanaka makua is respected for his hard work and eagerness to engage

in a venture, be it house building, farming or community service.