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Hawaiian Word of the Day: One

January 15, 2010

one - sand

Today’s Hawaiian word of the day is one, or sand.

One kind of black sand, specifically that created from ʻaʻā lava (the rocky, slow-moving variety), is called one ʻā. The phrase can also refer to volcanic cinder as well as gunpowder.  Recounting the fiery power of Pele, the famous traditional hula “Puʻu Onioni” speaks of one ʻā in its third verse:

Lauahi Pele i kai o Puna

One ʻā kai o Malama

(Pele destroys by fire towards the sea of Puna /The black cinder seaward of Malama)

one ʻā - black sand, volcanic cinder

Here Kumu Hula Kawaikapuokalani Hewett performs “Puʻu Onioni” standing, maile lei in hand:

One is the base of an especially beautiful Hawaiian expression, one hānau. Literally mean “birth sands”, one hānau means birthplace or homeland, especially referring to Hawaiʻi. When I was living far away from home, the expression would always come to my mind. Hawaiʻi has been and always be my one hānau.

One hānau makes a noteworthy appearance in Rev. Lorenzo Lyons’ famous song “Hawaiʻi Aloha”, which is often sung at the end of many different gatherings and community events. However,  I find very often that, when people sing the song, the mood is usually very somber. But the lyrics are joyful, inspiring us with the love for our one hānau, our lāhui, Hawaiʻi. It’s the one song that usually gets me every time I hear it, much more so than “Hawaiʻi Ponoʻī”. Hereʻs the first verse and chorus

E Hawaiʻi, e kuʻu one hānau ē

Kuʻu home kulāiwi nei

ʻOli au i nā pono lani ou

E Hawaiʻi aloha ē


E hauʻoli nā ʻōpio o Hawaiʻi nei

ʻOli ē! ʻOli ē!

Mai nā aheahe makani e pā mai nei

Mau ke aloha, no Hawaiʻi…

(Hawaiʻi sands of my birth/ My homeland / I rejoice in the blessings from the heavens / Beloved Hawaiʻi..

CHORUS: Be happy youth of Hawaiʻi / Rejoice, rejoice! / From the breezes that are blowing / Forever is my love for Hawaiʻi)

This clip from the late Israel Kamakawiwoʻole is sure to give you the gist of it.

The above photos are used through the Creative Commons license. Credit below:

First photo information here. Second photo at: / CC BY-NC 2.0

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