Get Ali%CA%BBi essential facts below. View Videos or join the Ali%CA%BBi discussion. Add Ali%CA%BBi to your topic list for future reference or share this resource on social media.

Ali?i in the Hawaiian language refers to the hereditary line of rulers, the noho ali?i, of the Hawaiian Islands. Ali?i has a similar meaning in the Samoan language and other Polynesian languages, and in M?ori is pronounced "ariki."


In ancient Hawaiian society, the ali?i were the hereditary nobles (social class or caste).[1][2] The ali?i consisted of the higher and lesser chiefs of the various levels within the islands.[3][4] The noho ali?i were the ruling chiefs.[5] The ali?i were believed to be descended from the deities.[6] They governed with divine power called mana, which was derived from the spiritual energy of their ancestors.[4][7]

There were eleven classes of ali?i, of both men and women. These included the kahuna (priestesses and priests, experts, craftsmen, and canoe makers) as part of four professions practiced by the nobility.[8] Each island had its own ali?i nui, who governed their individual systems.[9]Ali?i continued to rule the Hawaiian islands until 1893, when Queen Lili?uokalani was overthrown by a coup d'état backed by the United States government.

Ali?i nui were ruling chiefs (in Hawaiian, nui means grand, great, or supreme.[10]). The nui title could be passed on by right of birth.

Social designations of noho ali?i (ruling line)

Samuel M. Kamakau writes extensively about the ali?i nui and kaukau ali?i lines and their importance to Hawaiian history.[11]

  • Ali?i nui were supreme high chiefs of an island and no others were above them (during the Kingdom period this title would come to mean "Governor"). The four largest Hawaiian islands (Hawai?i proper, Maui, Kaua?i, and O?ahu) were usually ruled each by their own ali?i nui. Moloka?i also had a line of island rulers, but was later subjected to the superior power of nearby Maui and O?ahu during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. M was a special title for the highest chief of the island of Maui. Later, the title was used for all rulers of the Hawaiian Islands and the Hawaiian monarchs.
  • Ali?i nui kapu were sacred rulers with special taboos.
  • Ali?i Pi?o were a rank of chiefs who were products of full blood sibling unions. Famous Pi?o chiefs were the royal twins, Kameeiamoku and Kamanawa.
  • Ali?i Naha were a rank of chiefs who were products of half-blood sibling unions; famous Naha chiefs include Keopuolani.
  • Ali?i Wohi were a rank of chiefs who were products of marriage of close relatives other than siblings; one famous Wohi chief was Kamehameha I. These chiefs possessed the kapu wohi, exempting them from kapu moe (prostration taboo).
  • Kaukau ali?i were lesser chiefs who served the ali?i nui.[12] It is a relative term and not a fixed level of ali?i nobility. The expression is elastic in terms of how it is used. In general, it means a relative who is born from a lesser ranking parent.[13][14] A kaukau ali?i son's own children, if born of a lesser ranking ali?i mother, would descend to a lower rank. Eventually the line descends, leading to makainana (commoner).[15]Kaukauali?i gain rank through marriage with higher-ranking ali?i.

One kaukau ali?i line descended from Moana K?ne, son of Keakealanikane, became secondary ali?i to the Kamehameha rulers of the kingdom and were responsible for various hana lawelawe (service tasks). Members of this line married into the Kamehamehas, including Charles Kana?ina and Kek?an?o?a.[12] Some bore K?hili, royal standards made of feathers, and were attendants of the higher-ranking ali?i.[12] During the monarchy some of these chiefs were elevated to positions within the primary political bodies of the Hawaiian legislature and the king's Privy Council. All Hawaiian monarchs after Kamehameha III were the children of Kaukauali?i fathers who married higher ranking wives.[12]:112[16]

Feudal social organization

  • Ali?i ?Aimoku were subordinate district ali?i, but controlled their petty fiefs. But these petty fiefs could sometimes encompass one-sixth of an island, since the islands were usually divided into six districts. These feudal lords were ali?i nui of their district and were styled as "Ali?i-o-Name of District".

Internecine warfare between heirs of rulers was common in ancient Hawai?i. Warfare between chiefs was also common.

Commoner or lesser Ali?i served the higher-ranking Ali?i, not for pay, but instead, due to their duty to allegiance to the nation.

The caste organization facilitated a feudal system that resembles other feudal societies, for example the feudal systems found in Europe circa 1000 AD, in feudal Japan, Ethiopia, and so on.

Higher ali?i gave lesser ali?i parcels of land, which those lesser ali?i would in turn govern. The lesser ali?i divided the land into plots to be farmed and cultivated by makainana families. Harvests were returned to the lesser ali?i, each taking a portion before sending tribute to the supreme ali?i.

Both the reigning dynasties of the united Hawaiian Kingdom (1810-1893) were of ali?i class. As each relative of those dynasties was entitled to the title ali?i, they have later, posthumously, been popularly labeled (mostly erroneously) princesses and princes. But only a limited number of royal relatives ever received the princely title from the monarch.

1843 Kamehameha named his country the Hawaiian Kingdom to distinguish it from the former "Sandwich Isles" proclaimed by Captain Cook in 1798. On November 28, 1843, at the Court of London, the British and French governments entered into a formal agreement to recognize Hawaiian independence.

See also


  1. ^ Mary Kawena Pukui; Samuel H. Elbert (1 January 1986). Hawaiian Dictionary: Hawaiian-English, English-Hawaiian. University of Hawaii Press. p. 20. ISBN 978-0-8248-0703-0.
  2. ^ Mary Kawena Pukui and Samuel Hoyt Elbert (2003). "lookup of ali?i". in Hawaiian Dictionary. Ulukau, the Hawaiian Electronic Library, University of Hawaii Press. Retrieved 2010.
  3. ^ Sharon Henderson Callahan (20 May 2013). Religious Leadership: A Reference Handbook. SAGE Publications. p. 252. ISBN 978-1-4522-7612-0.
  4. ^ a b Brien Foerster. The Real History Of Hawaii: From Origins To The End Of The Monarchy. p. 30. ISBN 978-1-300-46126-5.
  5. ^ Juri Mykkänen (January 2003). Inventing Politics: A New Political Anthropology of the Hawaiian Kingdom. University of Hawaii Press. p. 172. ISBN 978-0-8248-1486-1.
  6. ^ John F. McDermott; Wen-Shing Tseng; Thomas W. Maretzki (1 January 1980). People and Cultures of Hawaii: A Psychocultural Profile. University of Hawaii Press. p. 8. ISBN 978-0-8248-0706-1.
  7. ^ Mary Kawena Pukui and Samuel Hoyt Elbert (2003). "lookup of mana". in Hawaiian Dictionary. Ulukau, the Hawaiian Electronic Library, University of Hawaii Press. Retrieved 2010.
  8. ^ Stephen Dando-Collins (1 April 2014). Taking Hawaii: How Thirteen Honolulu Businessmen Overthrew the Queen of Hawaii in 1893, With a Bluff. Open Road Media. p. 9. ISBN 978-1-4976-1429-1.
  9. ^ Barbara A. West (1 January 2009). Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. Infobase Publishing. p. 270. ISBN 978-1-4381-1913-7.
  10. ^ Mary Kawena Pukui and Samuel Hoyt Elbert (2003). "lookup of nui". in Hawaiian Dictionary. Ulukau, the Hawaiian Electronic Library, University of Hawaii Press. Retrieved 2010.
  11. ^ Samuel Manaiakalani Kamakau (1 January 1992). Ruling Chiefs of Hawaii. Kamehameha Schools Press. p. iii. ISBN 978-0-87336-014-2.
  12. ^ a b c d Kanalu G. Terry Young (25 February 2014). Rethinking the Native Hawaiian Past. Taylor & Francis. p. 58. ISBN 978-1-317-77668-0.
  13. ^ Abraham Fornander; Thomas George Thrum (1920). Fornander collection of Hawaiian antiquities and folk-lore ... Bishop Museum Press. p. 311.
  14. ^ Davida Malo (1903). Hawaiian Antiquities: (Moolelo Hawaii). Hawaiian islands. pp. 82-.
  15. ^ Kauanui, J. K?haulani (17 October 2008). Hawaiian Blood: Colonialism and the Politics of Sovereignty and Indigeneity. Duke University Press. pp. 44-. ISBN 0-8223-9149-X.
  16. ^ Osorio, Jon Kamakawiwo?ole (2002). Dismembering L?hui: A History of the Hawaiian Nation to 1887. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. pp. 80, 11, 147. ISBN 0-8248-2549-7.

Further reading

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



Music Scenes