To claim honors not rightfully due, to seek preferment, to aspire to the best or to more than is one’s due; to claim to be of higher rank than one is. 

 Oʻahu drivers know Piʻikoi Avenue in Honolulu. This street was probably named for the father of Prince Jonah Kūhiō and Prince David Kawānanakoa.  His name was David Kahalepōuli Piʻikoi.  David’s father, Jonah Piʻikoi, was the owner of a large section of the Kewalo area and built the first two story wooden house in that area near McKinley High School.

If you look in the Place Names of Hawaiʻi book, the translation for piʻikoi is “lofty aspirations,” but really it goes beyond that!  Just look at the meaning above:  to claim honors not rightfully due, to claim to be of higher rank than one is.  Do you know anyone who is piʻikoi in the way he/she acts?

Now some may think, well, it is always good to be piʻikoi, to be more than you are, to always strive for more.  But perhaps this word is a reflection of the Hawaiian social system, the practice that you are born with your status, your ranking, you had no opportunity to change class, so why bother…hmmm…

Mai piʻikoi ʻoe i ke akule lā – Don’t just prefer the akule fish (from the song “He ʻOno” by Bina Mossman).

Mai piʻikoi i ka ʻamaʻama- Don’t strive for the ʻamaʻama (this fish was very choice.  Be satisfied with what you have, why aim for the moon).

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.

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