Pukui’s classic Hawaiian proverbs book back in hardcover form

  • “Olelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs and Poetical Sayings” by Mary Kawena Pukui

After having been out of print for quite a number of years and always in high demand because of the quality of its content, “Olelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs and Poetical Sayings” by the renowned Mary Kawena Pukui has been reprinted once again!

This time, the publisher (Bishop Museum Press) has gone the extra mile with this most recent version by putting it in a sturdy, larger, hardcover format, a vast improvement over the oversized paperback version, which tended to get worn pretty quickly from so much use.

For those not familiar with “Olelo No‘eau,” it is the outcome of an effort that was first begun in 1910 by a then-15-year-old Mrs. Pukui.

This incredible collection of more than 3,000 proverbs and sayings displays the wisdom, knowledge, compassion, humor, morality and beliefs of the Hawaiian people, revealing to us traditional Hawaiian insight and lore handed down through generations of oral tradition.

These sayings can be appreciated both individually and collectively for their aesthetic, historic and educational values, but they also can reveal deeper layers of meaning, giving not only a better understanding of Hawaii and its people, but all of humanity.

These words bring us closer to the everyday thoughts and lives of the Hawaiians who created them, and they offer up a basis for understanding the essence and origins of traditional Hawaiian values.

Here are a few small examples:

E aloha kekahi i kekahi

“Love one another.”

Ma ka hana ka ‘ike.

“In working, one learns.”

‘A‘ohe pau ka ‘ike i ka hālau ho‘okahi.

“All knowledge is not learned in just one school. (One can learn from many sources.)”

‘A‘ohe hana nui ke alu ‘ia.

“No task is too big when done together by all.”

Definitely, this one is a treasure for anyone and everyone!


Cynthia Lynn and Ed Justus are owners of The Bookstore in Hanapepe.


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