Kuaʻana

1. Term of address for older sibling or cousin of the same sex, or cousin of the same sex of the senior line of a family; also sometimes used to replace the much more common kaikuaʻana or kaikuʻana. (PEP tuakana.)

2. First brewage of liquor; mixtures following are called pōkiʻi, little brother or sister.

A few weeks ago, I shared the word, pōkiʻi, meaning younger sibling. Today’s He Momi is another word referring to the relationship between siblings.

The entire mindset of the ʻohana, for Hawaiians, is quite different from Western thinking. First of all, the word ʻohana connotes the extended family, to include all relatives, blood and by marriage. In our Western way of thinking, we think of family as referring to the nuclear family. Mom, dad, children.

So the term kuaʻana (interchanged with the more commonly used kaikuaʻana) may be difficult for some to understand. It is the term used when referring to a sibling or cousin who is older and of the same sex. So, my older sister would be my kuaʻana. On the other hand, the relationship between my brother and HIS older brother would be HIS kuaʻana. There is no term for older siblings of the opposite sex. It makes one wonder why it wo old be important to distinguish age differences for the same sex but not for the opposite. Something to ponder.

For your information, if you are female, your brothers are your kaikunāne. Males don’t have kaikunāne, they only have kuaʻana (or kaikuaʻana) and kaina (or kaikaina for younger sibling, same sex). If you are a male, your sisters are your kaikuahine. Females do not have kaikuahine.

And then on top of this, all these terms could be used for your cousins! I don’t really hear this being used today, probably because we have been westernized to the point of wanting to distinguish between cousins and siblings in our conversations in Hawaiian. Some may think this is an example of blending Western and Hawaiian concepts. Perhaps. Or maybe we are continuing to lose parts of our culture by doing this. Maybe it is just part of the evolution of language.

ʻAʻohe oʻu kuaʻana – I don’t have an older sibling of the same sex.

Ua ʻike ʻo Kaleo i kona kaikuaʻana ma kahakai – Kaleo saw his older brother at the beach.

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