In early Hawaiʻi, oli was the way mele, songs or poems, were presented. Visit Anahola, Kauaʻi, to learn about oli.

Unit lesson


Video Questions

1) What is oli?

2) How do we use oli?

3) Who can do oli?

4) What context or setting do you find yourself in regularly that would be appropriate for oli?

5) Is there only one way to oli?

6) How is the practice of oli similar to singing? How does it differ?

7) Can all oli be danced to?

8) Why is it important to be careful with the words we chant and speak?


Video Vocabulary

1) oli
chant, to chant

2) oli kāhea
chant calling out, related to request and admittance into a place

3) kumu hula
hula teacher

4) hūi
halloo, hey there

5) ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi
Hawaiian language

6) ulu wale
to grow (without effort)

7) kāhea
to call out

8) hale

9) mahaʻoi
rude; to stick your nose where it doesn’t belong

10) keiki

11) hūi, e ʻAnakē, hele mai
halloo, Aunty, come

12) ke hele mai nei au
I’m coming

13) pane

14) hūi, komo mai, ʻAnakē, hele mai
halloo, come, Aunty, come

15) reciprocol
done or felt in return

16) kelepona

17) heahea
to call out; to welcome

18) kūpuna
grandparents or ancestors

19) maikaʻi

20) ʻōlapa

21) protocol
the customs and rules of behavior in a formal setting

22) lāʻau lapaʻau
medicinal, herbal healing

23) ka wā kahiko
old times

24) pule
prayer, to pray

25) variations
different forms of something

26) ʻae, pololei
yes, correct

27) hālau
a school, a place for learning

28) lua
the art of traditional Hawaiian hand-to-hand fighting

29) mai nā kūpuna mai
from our ancestors

30) oli heahea
chant calling out; chant of welcome

31) oli kāwele
style of chanting with clear pronunciation

32) olioli
style of chanting that often contains ʻiʻi, or vibrato

33) oli hoʻouēuē
wailing style of chanting

34) ʻiʻi
vibrato, which is a rapid, slight variation in pitch

35) oli wanaʻao
chant for the dawn of a new day

36) kuleana
responsibility, privilege

37) oli hula
oli that are danced to

38) mana i ka leo
power in the voice

39) akahele
be careful

40) mahalo a nui
much thanks


Guiding Questions