There are so many people that I meet nowadays who are interested in the Maoli logo. Some have seen it used somewhere else, and are curious about what it means in a Hawaiian context, and some who are more familiar with Hawaiian culture know to still ask to understand the story behind the design. In this article, we will go over the cultural traditions and meaning behind our logo.
Generations of indigeneity
The logo uses three stacked instances of the mauna (mountain) design, which is a short, isosceles triangle.
The mauna (mountain) as an individual motif symbolizes strength, resilience, and constancy to the wearer. The Hawaiian islands are host to a wide array of diverse and impressive mountain ranges, which even serve as unique identifiers for each of the eight islands.
When designing the Maoli logo, we turned to the mauna as role models for our business in being kūpaʻa (steadfast) and holu (resilient). Envisioning Maoli in the future, we wanted to embody the lessons and teachings of the mauna in every way we could.
Three mauna (mountain) designs collectively make up the Maoli logo. The three mauna (mountain) patterns placed together creates a symbol for “hanauna”, which means “generations” or “ancestry”.
Each of the triangles represent three important generations of indigenous Hawaiians—the past (ka wā i hala), the present (ka wā ʻānō), and the future (ka wā mahope). The “generations” theme for our logo connects to how Hawaiian people (along with many other Polynesian cultures) place a high importance on the multi-generational wellbeing of their communities.
When designing Maoli as a business, we focused on creating a business that leaned into our indigenous values. We wanted the organization to be indigenous by design. To us, this meant incorporating the lessons from the past (ka wā i hala), the present (ka wā ʻānō), and the future (ka wā mahope). Everytime we look at the Maoli logo, we are reminded to keep all three generations in mind. This empowers us to produce culturally accurate designs, use sustainable materials or business models, and focus on uplifting our community.
The most important generation is “the time that went”, or ka wā i hala (the past).
Ka wā i hala (the past) includes all of our predecessors who are no longer with us, but are directly responsible for each of us being where we are today. It is through the connection with ka wā i hala that Hawaiians are able to draw upon our ancestral knowledge (ʻike kuʻuna). This knowledge manifests itself in a variety of ways—sometimes it comes directly, like a past lesson with an elder that is no longer living, other times, it can be through spiritual connections, like interactions with ʻaumākua (ancestral guardians) in a dream. We lean on our fundamental connection with the past to help to educate us and guide us as we navigate the world.
Contrary to what might be thought, the second-most important generation is “the time after”, or ka wā mahope (the future).
Our ancestral Native Hawaiians had an uncanny knack for being aspirational visionaries for future generations. Put differently, everything that the present generation would do was to allow the future generation to flourish. Maoli aims to do the same, to help future generations of Hawaiians to proudly embrace their indigenous culture. E ola e nā mamo o ka pae ʻāina ʻo Hawaiʻi. Long live the descendants of the Hawaiian islands.
Finally, we have “the time right now”, or ka wā ʻānō (the present).
If we look at our lifetimes at a macro level, we are nothing but a small blip in time. Hawaiians understood this idea and embedded this philosophy into parts of the culture. They would frequently refer to humans as “stewards of the land”, focusing on multi-generational efforts to protect and preserve the land for posterity. As the bridge between ka wā i hala and ka wā mahope, it is our responsibility to take our ʻike kuʻuna and care (mālama) for it until it is time for us to pass that knowledge on to the next generation.
The three generations help to give Maoli as a business the perspective of why we do the work we do. We recognize that our mission to empower Native Hawaiian people and cultural allies through modern apparel that positively showcases and embraces indigenous identity is a multi-generation effort. We draw upon the wisdom of our forefathers and foremothers to guide us to make this world a better place for future generations. To us, incorporating this knowledge into a symbol we could refer to across our business was the perfect way to ensure this perspective remained at the core of everything we did. With this, the Maoli logo was born.
Multi-generational Maoli values
Our logo is just one example of how we as a business intend to keep our values at the core of everything we do. At Maoli, we seek to Hōʻihi (Respect), Hoʻomau (Perpetuate), and Hoʻoulu (Grow) Native Hawaiian culture. So whether we are crafting our newsletter or designing our next line of apparel, these three Hawaiian values define who we are as a business and are at the forefront of everything that we do.
- Hōʻihi (Respect)—Our designs embody culturally-accurate, respectful representations of indigenous identity, which native people and allies can wear with pride in the 21st century
- Hoʻomau (Perpetuate)—Our designs are embedded with stories, passing down traditional cultural knowledge and life lessons from generation to generation
- Hoʻoulu (Grow)—Our designs inspire the proliferation of indigenous culture across continents and ethnic groups to cultivate and increase our cultural ambassadors and allies.
Interested in learning more about Maoli as a business and how our values are shaping the way we create new designs, run our business, and engage with the world? Check out our blog post!
As Maoli moves forward, we will always know from where we have come. Our logo simply helps to remind us of this story in a very simple way. We are definitely not the first, and I don’t expect that we will be the last, but I do know that we are committed to making a difference through the apparel that we make.
About the Author
🌺 Aloha! ʻO Kaipo koʻu inoa. I am the founder of Maoli! As a kanaka maoli who grew up in Kaʻaʻawa on the North Shore of Oʻahu, I wanted to create a brand for Native Hawaiian people and cultural allies that positively and accurately showcases who we are indigenous people. Because, if I do say so myself, we are pretty great. Maoli is a 100% indigenously owned small business. Mahalo nui for your support.
Share your thoughts!