1. Younger brother or sister or closely related younger cousin, often spoken affectionately. hoʻopōkiʻi – To claim a pōkiʻi relationship; to behave as a pōkiʻi. (PEP pootiki.)
The word, pōkiʻi, in and of itself, gives a glimpse into the Hawaiian culture. There is an implied sense of responsibility for older children to watch over, care for, and teach the younger siblings. In fact, this holds true today in much the same way that it did many many years ago. Hawaiian children are expected to care for the younger children without being told and this is not restricted to their own siblings. This applies to all younger children within the extended ʻohana.
It is understood that the pōkiʻi must listen to the older siblings much like they listen to their own parents. And if the pōkiʻi does something wrong, frequently it is the older sibling that gets the scoldings. Many teenagers (and younger) stay home from school to take care of the young ones when the parent(s) cannot do so. I remember visiting a charter school on Kauaʻi where the older siblings actually brought babies to class and these little ones were accepted into the school.
Kamehameha I uttered a line (well known today) that I take to heart in these trying and frustrating times for Hawaiians:
“I mua e nā pōkiʻi a inu i ka wai ʻawaʻawa. ʻAʻohe hope e hoʻi mai ai.”
Go forward my younger siblings and drink of the bitter waters. There is no retreating. [Uttered by Kamehameha as he rallied his forces in the battle of ʻĪao]
We, as a people and the pōkiʻi of Kamehameha I, have been drinking of those bitter waters and frankly, I’m tired of it. I want some sweet water. But we cannot retreat, we cannot give up. Our battles are laid out in front of us and we must continue to drink that water, let it quench our thirst, however bitter it may be, and move forward, i mua.
Educate yourself, learn about TMT, Mauna Kea, Haleakalā, Pōhakuloa, Kanaʻiolowalu, take Hawaiian studies classes, get out and volunteer at a loʻi kalo or in our forests or at a school in a Hawaiian community. We cannot sit idly by, giving the responsibility to others. We need to take care for our pōkiʻi by getting involved and DOING something, we need to mālama our kuleana, take care of our responsibilities.
Pōkiʻi ka ua, ua i ka lehua – the rain a younger brother, raining on the lehua flowers [the rain and lehua are dear to each other].
I paʻa i ka hānau mua, ʻaʻole e puka nā pōkiʻi – Had het mother died in bearing the oldest, all the others would not have been born [sai in reminding brothers and sisters to respect the hiapo (eldest).]
ʻO ke keiki he loaʻa i ka moe, ʻo ka pōkiʻi ʻaʻole – One can produce a child by sleeping with a mate, but he cannot produce a younger brother or sister. [Great affection between brothers and sisters, and especially for younger siblings, was not rare in olden days. This saying is a reminder to treat younger ones with love and respect.]
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.