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The wind is an integral part of life in the Hawaiian islands. The winds shape the landscape, affect the weather, and have been personified in Hawaiian legends and traditions.

If you’re wondering about the Hawaiian words for wind and their meanings, this article will provide a deep dive into the names and symbolism of wind in Hawaiian culture.

In short, Hawaiian has many words that refer to the winds from different directions, winds that are calm or strong, and winds that herald the changing seasons. Certain winds like the trade winds hold deep cultural significance. Keep reading to learn much more about the Hawaiian vocabulary and folklore related to the winds of the islands.

The Cardinal Winds of the Islands

The Cardinal Winds of the Islands

Wind holds an important place in Hawaiian culture, with each direction having its own name and significance. The four cardinal winds of the islands are ‘Āpa’apa’a (East Wind), Kona (South Wind), Kēhau (North Wind), and Hānau (West Wind).

These winds have been a part of Hawaiian life for centuries, influencing everything from navigation to agriculture.

‘Āpa’apa’a – East Wind

The ‘Āpa’apa’a wind comes from the east and is known for its gentle and cool nature. It brings with it the refreshing scent of the ocean and is often associated with new beginnings.

In Hawaiian mythology, this wind is believed to be the breath of the goddess Haumea, the creator of all life. It is said that when ‘Āpa’apa’a blows, it carries with it the power of renewal and rejuvenation.

Kona – South Wind

The Kona wind, coming from the south, is warm and humid. It is associated with heavy rain and is often seen as a sign of abundance.

In Hawaiian folklore, this wind is connected to Lono, the god of agriculture and fertility.

The Kona wind brings with it the moisture necessary for the growth of crops and is celebrated for its role in sustaining the land and its people.

Kēhau – North Wind

Kēhau is the name given to the north wind in Hawaiian culture. This wind is cool and refreshing, bringing relief from the heat.

It is associated with the goddess Poli’ahu, who resides on the snow-capped peaks of Mauna Kea. The Kēhau wind is often seen as a blessing, as it provides a break from the tropical climate and brings a sense of tranquility to the islands.

Hānau – West Wind

The Hānau wind comes from the west and is known for its strong and gusty nature. It is associated with change and transformation.

In Hawaiian mythology, this wind is connected to the god Kāne, the creator of the universe. The Hānau wind is seen as a force of power and can bring about both destruction and renewal. It serves as a reminder of the ever-changing nature of life.

The cardinal winds of the islands play a significant role in Hawaiian culture, influencing everything from daily activities to spiritual beliefs.

They are a reminder of the interconnectedness between humans and nature, and the importance of respecting and honoring the forces that shape our world.

Winds for Seasons and Weather

In Hawaiian culture, the wind holds a significant place, not only in language but also in daily life.

The Hawaiians have different names for winds that are associated with various seasons and weather conditions.

Each wind has its unique characteristics and meanings. Let’s explore some of the winds commonly mentioned in Hawaiian culture.

Makani – The General Word for Wind

One of the most commonly used words for wind in the Hawaiian language is “Makani”. It is a general term that encompasses all types of winds.

The word “Makani” is often used to describe the movement of air in any context, whether it’s a gentle breeze or a strong gust.

Hawaiians understand the importance of winds in their daily lives, and the term “Makani” reflects their deep connection with nature.

Kēhau – Cool, Rain-Bringing Wind

The word “Kēhau” refers to a specific wind that brings coolness and rain. This wind is associated with the rainy season in Hawaii, usually from November to March.

The Kēhau wind brings relief from the heat and replenishes the land with much-needed water. It is a welcome wind that nourishes the plants and ensures a bountiful harvest for the community.

Kō’i – Strong, Gusty Wind

When Hawaiians talk about a strong, gusty wind, they often use the term “Kō’i”. This wind is characterized by its forceful nature, capable of knocking down trees and causing havoc.

The Kō’i wind can be both awe-inspiring and dangerous, reminding people of the power and unpredictability of nature.

‘A’ali’i – Trade Wind

The trade wind, known as “A’ali’i” in Hawaiian, is a constant and reliable wind that blows from the northeast. It is a cooling breeze that provides relief from the tropical heat.

The A’ali’i wind is essential for navigation and has historically aided the Polynesians in their voyages across the Pacific Ocean.

It is also responsible for shaping the unique ecosystems found in different parts of the Hawaiian Islands.

Mālamalama – Gentle Breeze

For a gentle, soothing breeze, Hawaiians use the term “Mālamalama”. This wind is refreshing and brings a sense of calmness and serenity. It is perfect for outdoor activities like picnics or stargazing.

The Mālamalama wind carries a sense of tranquility and connects people to the natural beauty of the islands.

Understanding the various names and meanings of winds in Hawaiian culture provides a deeper appreciation for the interconnectedness between humans and nature.

The winds play a vital role in shaping the environment and influencing the daily lives of the Hawaiian people. Next time you feel a breeze on your face, take a moment to appreciate the rich cultural significance behind it.

Legendary and Symbolic Winds

Legendary and Symbolic Winds

Wind holds a significant place in Hawaiian culture, with each wind having its own name and unique meaning.

These winds are not just physical phenomena but are also seen as powerful spirits that shape the land and influence people’s lives.

In Hawaiian mythology and folklore, several legendary and symbolic winds are revered for their importance and impact.

Nā Mālie – Winds That Brought Tahitian Voyagers

Nā Mālie, meaning “the calm,” refers to the winds that brought the ancient Tahitian voyagers to the Hawaiian Islands.

These winds were crucial in facilitating the migration of Polynesians to Hawaii and played a vital role in shaping the history and culture of the islands.

The Nā Mālie winds symbolize the peaceful and harmonious connection between different Polynesian cultures.

La’amaomao – Wind That Defeated Fire Goddess

La’amaomao is a legendary wind known for its strength and ability to withstand the fiery wrath of the Hawaiian fire goddess, Pele.

According to Hawaiian mythology, Pele, the goddess of volcanoes, once challenged the mighty La’amaomao to a battle. Despite Pele’s immense power, she was unable to overcome the relentless force of the wind.

This legend signifies the power of nature and the respect Hawaiians have for the forces of wind.

Makani ‘Aumakua – Ancestral Wind Spirits

Makani ‘Aumakua are ancestral wind spirits that are believed to watch over and protect their descendants. In Hawaiian culture, ‘aumakua are ancestral deities or spirits that take various forms, including animals, natural elements, and even winds.

These winds are seen as messengers from the ancestors, guiding and providing blessings to their descendants. The Makani ‘Aumakua winds represent the deep connection between the living and their ancestors.

Understanding the legends and symbolic meanings associated with these winds is essential to appreciating the rich cultural heritage of the Hawaiian people.

The stories passed down through generations not only reflect the reverence for nature but also provide insights into the values and beliefs that have shaped the Hawaiian way of life.


The Hawaiian language contains a rich vocabulary related to the winds, reflecting the great importance of the winds in Hawaiian culture and daily life. The directional winds gave cardinal points to navigation.

The seasonal winds marked planting and harvesting times. Some winds were even deified in Hawaiian legends.

This glimpse into the Hawaiian names for wind illustrates the close relationship between the wind, the land, and the spirituality of Native Hawaiians. Whether strong or gentle, destructive or life-giving, the winds of the islands continue to shape Hawaii both physically and culturally.

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