1. nvs. Industrious, busy, hard-working; workman, laborer, worker, industry.

2. n. Implement, tool, utensil, furnishings (Nah. 7.1). Mea paʻahana, tool, workman.

Paʻahana is considered a “Hawaiian value”. A way to live your life. Surely if you look back through our history, it is apparent that our kanaka Hawaiʻi led an industrious life. Extensive cultivation in taro terraces (loʻi kalo), living a subsistent and self sufficient life, farming and fishing and sharing with ʻohana within their ahupuaʻa (land section). Hawaiian practiced paʻahana because their lives literally depended on it. No work = no food, clothes, shelter, transportation.

When foreigners came to Hawaiʻi, there were some remarks as to the laziness of Hawaiians during the day when the sun was out. But who wants to work in the blazing sun? Hawaiians worked in the early mornings and late afternoons more than during the middle of the heat of the day. Even today, when I wake up early in the countryside (I am thinking of Hawaiian Homes areas like Nānākuli, Keaukaha), I see the kupuna raking the leaves in the yard, pruning the bushes, sweeping the streets, and I mean EARLY, as soon as can see. Pau hana, go inside drink coffee and read newspaper. That is paʻahana.

If we break the word in two, we have paʻa, which means to make firm or stuck; and hana – work, task, deed. Literally, to be firm to the task.

This should not be confused with hanapaʻa, a term used by fishermen when the fish bites the hook. Hanapaʻa means to make secure or to fasten.

Paʻahana kākou i kēia mau lā – We are busy these days.

Ua paʻahana ʻo Lei i nehinei – Lei was busy yesterday.


2015 – Liana Iaea Honda. All rights reserved. All versions of He Momi e Lei ai”, in its entirety, past and present, is the property of L. K. I. Honda. Reproduction and use of any kind other than the sharing of this website is prohibited. Alteration to the original content in any form is prohibited in every and any instance, and use in any other variant is prohibited without written consent of the author. Adress inquiries to: hemomi [at] Definitions and wise sayings are from: Hawaiian Dictionary by Pukui and Elbert, 1986. ʻŌlelo Noʻeau – Hawaiian Proberbs & Poetical Sayings by Mary Kawena Pukui, 1983.

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2 Responses to Paʻahana

  1. Eloise Thompson says:

    Liana: I’m loving your column…I like your choice of words, the way you explain them, the examples you give. I also like that the words are so related to current events.

  2. Liana says:

    Mahalo e Eloise! I hope we can spend some time together soon!

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