Hawai’i is a place rich in culture and foundational values that imbue day to day life with purpose and structure. ‘Ohana is one of the many values that gives meaning to one’s relationships and social support structure. It is the value of family.
How to Pronounce ‘Ohana
‘Ohana is pronounced Oh Ha Na.
What Does ‘Ohana Mean in Hawaiian?
For Hawaiians, and those who embrace their culture, ‘Ohana means a great deal. The value of family is a precious one and it extends out beyond the nuclear to include extended family, close friends and colleagues, and other communities or groups.
On a literal level, ‘ohana originates from the Taro plant. A part of the taro plant called the ‘oha-ana is both the shoot of the plant, ‘ohā, which can be cut to grow a new plant, and ana, or regrowth or regeneration. Hawai’i is rich in metaphors and here we see the connection of the taro plant and its offshoots likened to a family tree that starts with one shoot and grows into many, that grow into many more.
In addition to blood relatives, close friends are considered ‘ohana as well as those one is connected to in other social groups or in some way bound by circumstance. Places of work, schools, churches, and recreational activities can all be the basis for developing ‘ohana, referred to as one’s work ‘ohana, school ‘ohana, and so forth.
How do Hawaiians Engage ‘Ohana?
In addition to describing relationship networks, ‘ohana carries a certain responsibility, or kuleana. There is a reciprocal relationship between you and your ‘ohana. A spoken and unspoken agreement to take care of each other. As part of a family, you may need to help support and care for a family member or the entire family in a variety of ways. It can mean respecting your elders or caring for children or paying part of the bills. No matter if family or work, ‘ohana brings expectation that you will be honorable in fulfilling your duties and do your best to avoid bringing any shame or suffering to the group.
Ways to Practice Ohana Daily
Pono [po no] (Make Right)
Everyday one can strive to be in right relationship with everyone in their ‘ohana. Every opportunity can be made to ensure things are fair and to meet each other with compassion and understanding.
Kuleana [ku le a na] (Responsibility)
Honoring ‘ohana means tending to your responsibilities. As a member of a family, team, cohort or group, you do your part to bring the best outcome for all.
Imi Ola [e me o la] (Best Life)
In order for any ‘ohana to thrive, it is important for each member to strive to live their best life. When we do this, we bring our talents and gifts to the community and uplift those around us.
Lokahi [lo ka hee] (Teamwork)
As part of an ‘ohana, you are part of a team, and a team needs cooperation, collaboration, harmony and unity. People who work together can achieve more.