Ho‘okipa & Hospitality in Hawaii

October 02, 2018

Ho‘okipa & Hospitality in Hawaii

Ho‘okipa is the Native Hawaiian value of hospitality and giving. Native Hawaiians have always believed in selflessly extending themselves to others, whether they had close ties with them or not. Hospitality in a traditional Hawaiian context goes beyond just an act of politeness — it was a custom to extend hospitality to all visitors. Traditionally, when strangers or “malihini” were visiting Hawaii and or going into the home of a kamaʻaina, or local resident, they were always heahea (invited or called) to come inside to eat and rest.

There were often many elements of ho‘okipa or hospitality that were valued by native Hawaiians. Heahea, meaʻai, kuleana, leʻaleʻa and makana. Heahea was defined as the “call of welcome”, whenever a local would see a visitor approaching they always called out with open arms to make the visitor feel more comfortable. Meaʻai is food in Hawaiian, not only were approaching visitors asked in, but they were always invited to eat.

Kuleana was known as a person’s responsibilities in the ho‘okipa process —  this is where the visitor explains their reason for visiting. This was proper etiquette. Leʻaleʻa refers to the fun, joy, and amusement of ho‘okipa in which locals would partake in pleasant conversation with their guests. Finally, makana is known as gift-giving which were defined as tokens of affection. The main idea of gift-giving was that by giving generously, you will receive the same generosity by others. It is known as a gesture of respect.

Now days, the value of ho‘okipa still lives on in many Native Hawaiian households. If you are a visitor of one’s home, you will always be welcomed with open arms…and most likely, a plate of food to eat! As a visitor, it’s always important to practice being respectful and grateful for these gestures and to treat locals with the same respect. So, he mai e komo mai ʻoukou e komo mai i loko o kauhlale e hele mai e ʻai – All of you, come in and eat!



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