n. A sweet, lovely, or tender expression of face or eyes; also said of the eyes of the kole, a fish. Ā ua lilo ihola ʻoia i mea hoʻomakaleho mau ʻia e nā kaikamahine maka onaona o Kauaʻi, this became something much wanted by the fragrant-eyed girls of Kauaʻi.
I LOVE these two words for different reasons. First of all, I think that to refer to someone as having maka onaona is to have a great appreciation for that person. Maka refers to the eyes or face. Onaona literally means fragrant or sweet smelling. Of course, one’s eyes or face cannot necessarily be fragrant but it sure can have the same effect on the soul, right? So maka onaona is another way of saying beautiful face or charming eyes.
Another reason I like these words is that the kole fish is THE best reef fish in the WORLD! Of course, that’s my own humble opinion but you can double check with my friends and family on Moloka‘i and in Lā‘ie. There is nothing better. Fried. Hot. Side order poi. The song, He ‘Ono (by Bina Mossman), has a line in it about the kole fish, “ʻO ke kole ka i’a maka onaona lā.” The kole is the fish with the sweet eyes.
So nothing wrong with calling your favorite person maka onaona. Either way it’s a compliment!
Copyright: 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] gmail.com. Definitions and wise sayings are from: Hawaiian Dictionary by Pukui and Elbert, 1986. ʻŌlelo Noʻeau – Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings by Mary Kawena Pukui, 1983.