What are some cool Hawaiian names for boys and girls?

 

I named this blog post after a question that I get asked a lot and in various forms - "What are some cool Hawaiian names for boys and girls?"

Iʻm hoping that you might have even typed it into Google and thatʻs why you are now here.

WAIT!

Before you click back because you donʻt see a list of names like you were hoping for - let me say that --- youʻre asking the wrong question!

The question you should be asking yourself is - “Why do I want to give my child a Hawaiian name?”

Maybe youʻre Hawaiian? Maybe your child is? Your reasoning could be that you live in Hawaii or that Moana is your favorite Disney movie ever ever ever and you just have to be a part of what you see and love.

Whatever your reason may be I invite you to dig deeper into your "why" and educate yourself on what you're attempting to do. You might find that what you're looking for is not a Hawaiian name. You might also find that it is, but you don't want something so important to be decided or influenced by people who don't even know you or by the internet!

Iʻm Hawaiian. I was born and raised on Oʻahu and I live here now with my husband and two kids. I donʻt have a Hawaiian name. My Hawaiian grandfather didn't give any of his kids Hawaiian names because he believed that the power behind Hawaiian names could bring bad things to the child. My father followed his example and until the months before having my first child, I had planned to do the same.

What changed it all for me is that the year before having our first child, Malu and I decided we wanted to learn Hawaiian together and speak it as a family. As we started doing just that, we realized the richness of culture and meaning contained in every word of the language. As my due date approached, we knew we wanted to give our daughter a Hawaiian name. We were committed to learning and speaking Hawaiian for the rest of our lives and knew that if we gave our children Hawaiian names, they would truly understand the meaning behind them. We wanted them to take on the meanings of the names and use them as a forever guide to their personal identities and a connection to their ancestors.

There are different ways the Hawaiians gave names - many of the ways involving family members. We didn't have anyone in either of our families to help us so we did all the research and composing of the names ourselves. 

It takes a lot of time, but I know the worth of that time when it's all going towards one of the greatest gift you are ever going to give your child. Their names will define who they are. It's the words they will hear most in their lives. Names are so much more than what's cool, trendy, or what sounds nice. The Hawaiians deeply understood that and if you're thinking of giving your child a Hawaiian name, you should try to understand that too.

I don't have a Hawaiian name, but I am still very proud of my Hawaiian heritage. I find ways to be connected and learn about my ancestors every day. When I look back on the way I was raised, it makes sense that I did not have one. I didn't speak the language, dance hula, or participate in any cultural practices. If I had one, I probably would have pronounced it wrong and I definitely wouldn't have understood the power and meaning behind it. I love Hawaiian names, but I'm not bitter I don't have one. I'm grateful I can learn about them now and apply my experiences moving forward and having children of my own.

I hope some of what I've shared has sparked an interest in your gut to dig deeper before continuing with your search.

Here are some incredible resources for naming in Hawaiian. I invite you to pour over them:

Resources

The importance of names to Hawaiians - *hit command F and search for "personal name"

The 6 types of naming

Basic Hawaiian Grammar

Hawaiian Dictionary

Call the Hawaiian Language Office at UH for questions about taking classes or other resources.

Sign up for a free account on Family Search to search for your ancestors and family names.

Your time is a huge resource. Choose to use it!

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