• “I’ve been waiting for you.”

Aunty Pilahi Paki (1910–1985) was a beloved native Hawaiian poet, philosopher, linguist, educator, spiritual guide, songwriter, author, and one of the holders of Hawaiʻi’s secrets. Over the years, she transmitted the sacred knowledge she was given about ALOHA to Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians alike.

Aunty Pilahi worked in the tourist industry among many others and wanted more knowledge about Hawaiʻi to share with the tourists she guided. A friend suggested she see a man that would help her. She was given an address and drove to his place unannounced. When she got out of the car, a man began chanting from the house, “Hele mai…!” When she got inside, he said, “I’ve been waiting for you.” She had no prior knowledge of who this man was.

She went into the house and spent some time with him. He told her, “All that I am and all that I have – do you want it?” She paused, looked him in the eye and said, “No.” She didn’t know what he was talking about. Then he blessed her by putting his hand on her head. She later said it was like “an electrical shock” – her whole body was vibrating. By this, he gave her his knowledge and mana. Everything that he knew he had passed on to Pilahi with the touch of his hand. And that was it.


“I learned to appreciate the meanings of words when I met Tutu.” – Pilahi Paki


Something happened to Pilahi that day and she knew it. In time, people came to Aunty Pilahi to learn but she always made it known that the transmission came down through her teacher and friend, David Kahekili Kia. She had no prejudice; she gave the same mana and knowledge to Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians alike.

In 1970, the Governor’s Conference on the Year 2000 took place where a panel of experts was discussing the meaning of ALOHA. They had come from across the state – scholars and intellectuals – and could not come to an agreement of what ALOHA is. Aunty Pilahi stood up and said, “Excuse me, this is what ALOHA is.” After acknowledging her teachers, she gave the first public transmission of ALOHA.


“I share it with you with no attachments because that is ALOHA.” – Pilahi Paki


The story goes that she awoke one day to find a piece of paper with words written in her own handwriting that she didn’t recall writing.

The words were what has come to be called the ALOHA chant or poem. The piece is based on the acronym for Aloha, with Hawaiian values assigned to each letter. The ALOHA chant can be heard and seen often across Hawaiʻi Nei.

The Aloha Chant led to the adoption of the ALOHA Spirit Bill by the Hawaiian Legislature in 1986 as Hawai`i Revised Statutes, section 5-7.5, acknowledging that “The ALOHA Spirit was the working philosophy of native Hawaiians and was presented as a gift to the people of Hawai`i.”

Thanks to Aunty Pilahi’s work and desire to spread the true meaning of Aloha to Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians alike, we are able to piece together a list of Key Tenets of ALOHA.

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