Exploring ‘Ohana & mo‘okū‘auhau
The first songs that many musicians learn are often linked to their ‘ohana (family) and mo‘okū‘auhau (genealogy). These influences also tend to wind through their own compositions in the form of stories about home, family, and friends. In these video clips, you’ll hear how ‘ohana and mo‘okū‘auhau have influenced the lives and work of some of Hawaii’s most renowned contemporary artists. By exploring these connections, you’ll begin to understand each artist’s distinct perspective, and perhaps even develop a richer, deeper appreciation for their work and the Hawaiian culture as a whole.
Brother Noland, slack key guitarist
Roots of his parents and grandparents:
Aloha influences family/rhythms of Hawaii:
Importance of music in the house and community:
Family connection to music and traditional celebration:
Connection to Filipino roots, culture and practices:
Richard Ho‘opi‘i, ukulele artist and Hawaiian singer/songwriter
Learning music from family:
Richard’s wife and offspring:
Exercise: Explore your own ʻohana and moʻokūʻauhau
When Hawaiian people meet for the first time, one of the first things they do is look for connections: Do they share ʻohana? Did they spend time in any of the same places? Have they shared any of the same life experiences? Knowing the facts about your family can help you connect more quickly with other people and more deeply with your culture as a whole.
Start by learning what you can about your immediate ‘ohana. Answer these questions about your parents:
- What are their names?
- Where were they born? Where did they grow up? Plot those places on a map.
- What schools did they attend?
- What kinds of music do/did they listen to?
- What kinds of foods do/did they like?
- What do you know about where they were born and where they grew up? List the places they lived in, and plot them on a map.
- What kinds of stories will you tell your children about your parents?
- Describe the experiences you shared with your parents that bring you good memories?
Next, answer the same questions for your brothers and sisters. If you can, branch out and answer the same questions for your grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.
Finally, do some research into your mo‘okū‘auhau:
- How many generations back can you trace your direct ancestors?
- What year (exact or approximate) did your earliest ancestor arrived in Hawaii?
- Where did he or she come from? Plot that on a map.
- Did any of your early ancestors arrive from the continental United States? If so, where did they come from?
As you work, try to gather and document as much detail as possible. The idea behind this exercise is to draw a complete and colorful picture of your family: one that connects you to your Polynesian roots and helps you see the ways in which your heritage influences the person you are today.