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Is It Molokai or Moloka'i?

There's often a debate about what is the correct way of pronouncing the name of this beautiful island. Even some locals often mispronounce it, let's learn some.

9 months ago

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Hubby has traveled or lived in many countries & continents and every single time that he spent more than a week at those locations, he self-imposed a rule to learn some of the history and local customs. A rule and not an option, he made it a priority; studies and common sense show that is the only way to truly experience the destination rather than just be in a perpetual state of "in transit".

Before meeting him, I had never been outside of the United States of America despite that my ancestors are clearly Germans... While we were still dating he took me to Jamaica. Since then I got the travel bug and adopted his own self-imposed rule as my own.

Just a small walk from our hotel...awww

I traveled plenty with him over the last decade and I must say that over time I start realizing how much your "sense of smell" about a place and its people becomes more refined. And ultimately living a mark on you no matter where you will be heading next. Notice the direction of the change here. It's on you, not the locals and the rationale is simple: they were already there, you may influence them but you won't change or mark anything because they don't need to.

We are not as knowledgeable about the Hawaiian culture and traditions, yet, therefore since we moved to Molokai, we have been regularly spending time learning through online resources and then cross-referencing with the help of locals. At this point two things are abundantly clear:

  1. Not all states are the same but Hawaii is definitely much different from any other part of the USA
  2. Do not trust the first or 2nd, 3rd, and so on online resource but cross-check a lot of what you find because every island has nuances that are not properly captured or extremely generalized. Often even among the locals, there's disparity on what's "the truth"

Most people see Hawaii as a beautiful destination with awesome beaches and relaxed life, filled with restaurants, resorts. We call that view of Hawaii "a bunch of floating malls". However, there's so much more than that.

There's a very convoluted history, a past that is very unique from the rest of America because of its geographical position, and plenty of traditions that have survived across generations, almost untouched.

As I mentioned before, every island has its own history and dynamics for why they are at the stage/status they are nowadays. Molokai is for sure the one that has a more authentic flavor of what the original archipelago once was when compared to the others.

Its native population is more strictly adhering to the original customs and traditions, as an example, there's a cultural practitioner on the island, well known by the mainstream media: Greg Solatarius.

At the end of the 39 miles stretch of this wonderful island, there's a valley called Halawa valley. The Hawaiian language is complex and often words don't have just one meaning. The one that we found to be in agreement among the most sources about the meaning of Halawa is:

sufficient life

That stems from the fact that you have everything you need to sustain yourself, your family, and your soul. The place is MAJESTIC, and very remote from anything else. By remote, I mean that there's literally no type of signal unless you have a satellite phone. The nearest store to get supplies is 29 miles away on a one-lane, windy road. As some resources mention

in Halawa Valley, if you don’t catch your own food, you don't eat. That’s how it goes. Luckily, this valley is rich with bountiful fruit, fish and vegetation. It supported a village for more than a thousand years and it supports the Solatorios today.

The responsibility of carrying on his family’s traditions and culture has been passed on to Greg. This video below will give you insights on some basics of what Greg does and what his family stands for on behalf of the island's culture continuation.

Greg's father, Pilipo has been collecting artifacts over the decades to rule out the true history of the island and most recently he stumbled upon an artifact his family shared about the meaning of the island's name and the correct way of pronouncing it.

Anakala Pilipo Solatorio

The right way

The Hawaiian language uses symbols to augment its meaning, today I will teach you about the OKINA. I know, I barely speak Italian but I am getting a hold of this language faster than when Deborah and Tiziana were hammering me on learning the basics of the Italian language, that is beyond the hand waving of course 😅 capisc' 🤌🏻

now you know...
Although the Pukui Hawaiian dictionary shows Molokai spelled "Molokasi" with a glottal stop or okina between the final "a" and "i", old timers say that it should be Molokai_

The meaning, they say, is "gathering of the ocean waters" or the "twisting ocean water" referring to the water spouts which were often seen in the channel between Molokai, Maui and Lanai.

Another meaning is twisting currents referring to the currents in the channels surrounding Molokai.

According Harriet Ne, .Mary Kawena Puk-usi contacted her three weeks before her death and, in that conversation, indicated that ".Molokai" was the proper spelling.

Old maps of the islands show spelling variations, such as "Morotoi" and "Molotoy", both being three-syllable words, which further supports the "no okina" interpretation, also shared by Catherine Summers..

This interpretation is consistent with statements made by other kuptma, in particular Danny Kekaluma who addressed a family group and Ranch employees on February 15, 1997 on this subject.

So now you know 😎 🤙🏽 and you can start spelling it right, darn it!

a copy of the letter that Pilipo was reading to a journalist of Mauinow.com

🌴 Have a bLife moment, I am doing it as we speak #truestory 🤙🏽

Victoria Esposito

Published 9 months ago