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Newspaper ad for a breath freshner produced by Browny of Honolulu, a perfume manufacturer in Waikiki. Circa 1950s.

 

 

 

The Hawaiian islands were inhabited by egalitarian communities for thousands of years. About 1,000 years ago, a migration from Tahiti arrived. These Malihinis (newcomers) came from a militarized and hierarchically-structured society and imposed this model on the people they encountered. Unsurprisingly, they made themselves the rulers.

Exploited as a subjugated group, some of the Kama'ainas (native-born) eventually intermingled with the Malihinis but others retreated into the valleys. The Malihinis called this latter group Menehunes, which literally means; mana (power) hune (impoverished or poor) - those with little power.

The Malihinis, adept at life in Tahiti, quickly absorbed the indigenous knowledge and practices of the Kama'ainas. What we now know as 'Hawaiian' culture is an adaptation
of both practices.