The Ten Words You Need To Know If You Can’t Wait for MOANA

 We don’t know about you, but the whole team here at Sky Pony is basically counting down the minutes until Disney’s Moana hits theaters on November 23rd. Teen girl power? Adventure-packed ocean voyages? Demigods and diverse main characters? A song by Lin-Manuel Freaking Miranda? You can bet we’re gonna be jumping into that opening-night screening like:

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So, if you’re even half as excited as we are, start preparing now with this list of Hawaiian words you have to know from Lisa Freeman, the author of YA novels Honey Girl and its sequel, Riptide Summer, coming next summer. Dive in!


With the movie Moana coming out later this month, I thought it might be fun to share some of my very favorite Hawaiian words. I’ve learned bits and pieces of the language over the course of many visits to Oahu, and I weave it into my YA series starting with Honey Girl. The language is melodic; the sound is unforgettable, and when I speak the words, I feel like I am connected to something far bigger.

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Wouldn’t it be great if it were possible to learn Hawaiian in school? Until then, I’ve put together a list of ten of my favorite words so you can start learning the beautiful language on your own.

Fun Fact: There are only twelve letters in the Hawaiian alphabet: five vowels (a, e, i, o, u) and seven consonants (h, k, l, m, n, p, w).

  1. Aloha: a state of mind that describes peace, harmony, and kindness. Aloha is also a greeting and a farewell. Take a deep breath when you say it, and if you’re having a tough day, you’ll feel better.
  2. Mahalo: thanks. People in Hawaii are very generous, and this word is a way to show your gratitude when you visit.
  3. Pono: to do the right thing. To “make it pono” means to make it right and be a person of your word.
  4. Wiki wiki: hurry up
  5. Mana: an energy, a divine power that some people think is supernatural. The late, great surfer Eddie Aikau had very powerful mana.
  6. Poi: a staple food made from cooked taro root and pounded into a delicious sauce you eat with your fingers
  7. ‘Ohana: family and super-close friends
  8. Pau: Done! Over!
  9. Honua: the Earth and land we live on
  10. Kai: the ocean, sometimes also known as the current of the sea

Got ’em? Well done!

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Mahalo and aloha.

Hau’oli Lā Ho’omaika’I (pronounced how-oh-lay-la-ho-o-ma-key-kah-ee): Happy Thanksgiving, Sky Pony Readers!

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Here are some great sources where you can learn more of the most beautiful language in the world:

  • Hawaiian Dictionary by Mary Kawena Pukui and Samuel H. Elbert
  • A Pocket Guide to the Hawaiian Language by Albert J. Schütz
  • Ka ‘Olelo Hawaii No Na Keiki (The Hawaiian Language for the Children) by Kulamanu

Honey Girl by Lisa Freeman

honey-girl-9781632204257They call the heart attack that killed fifteen-year-old Nani’s surfer father “the widow-maker”; when it struck, it killed him instantly. Almost as quickly, it turned Nani’s mother from the half-owner of Honolulu’s most famous bar to a hopeless alcoholic seeking a fresh start in California, and Nani into a fish out of water on Santa Monica’s State Beach.

It’s 1972, and as the new girl on one of the country’s most famous beaches, Nani’s only hope for acceptance—and survival—is following “The Rules,” an unspoken list of dos and don’ts that made her queen of the beach in Hawaii. After a series of harrowing initiations she manages to get in with the locals, even gaining the attention of surf god Nigel McBride.

But maintaining stardom is harder than achieving it, and Nani is harboring three secrets that could instantly destroy everything she’s worked to achieve. #1: She stole her dad’s ashes, hid them from her mom, and plans to spread them in the ocean he loved. #2: In order to get in with the lineup, she spied on them—and now she knows more than they’ll ever let her get away with. And deadliest of all, #3: she might just be in love with Rox, the queen supreme of State Beach.


lisa-freeman-authorLisa Freeman started her work as an actor and has been in numerous TV productions and films (Mr. Mom and Back to the Future I & II to name a few). She performed at the Comedy Store, which lead to her writing career in radio and spoken word. Freeman has a BA in liberal studies and Creative Writing, an MFA in Fiction, and a certificate in Pedagogy in Writing from Antioch University. Honey Girl, her debut novel, was inspired by a time when girls were the color of tan-before-sunscreen, drank Tabs by the six-pack, smoked Lark 100’s, and were not allowed to surf. Lisa lives in Santa Monica, California.

Visit her online lisa-freeman.com, and follow her on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

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