top of page

Oli Mahalo


Uhōla ‘ia ka makaloa lā

Pū`ai i ke aloha ā

Kūka`i ia ka hā loa lā

Pāwehi mai na lehua

Mai ka ho`oku`i a ka halawai lā

Mahalo e Nā Akua

Mahalo e nā kupuna lā ‘eā

Mahalo me ke aloha lā

Mahalo me ke aloha lā


The makaloa mat has been unfurled

In love, food was shared

The great breath has been exchanged

The lehua honors and adorns

From zenith to horizon

Gratitude and thanks to the gods

Gratitude and thanks to our beloved ancestors

Gratitude, admiration, thanks and love, to all who are present, both seen and unseen

Click the icon for a pdf of the words and translation

Word Meanings

  • Uhōla = To unfold

  • Lā = Occurs after nouns and verbs.

  • Makaloa = A native plant that makes fine Ni’ihau mats.

  • Pū`ai = To share food

  • Aloha = love, affection, compassion.

  • Hā loa = Everlasting Breath

  • Pāwehi = To beautify, adorn

  • Lehua = The flower of the ‘ōhi’a tree. It is the flower of the island of Hawai’i.

  • Mai = From

  • Ka ho’oku’i = To release

  • A ka = And

  • Halawai = Meeting

  • Mahalo = Thank you

  • E nā = by the, to the

  • Akua = Gods

  • Kupuna = Fathers, ancestors


Click the image to open as pdf.

Oli Mahalo Screenshot.png

Song's Place in Culture

This oli was composed by Kēhaur Smith and Malia Nobriga as a greeting of thanks for hospitality, love, generosity and knowledge that is given to us.


It also gives thanks to the beauty of the islands and our people. The message is that it is important for us to practice being “thankful” every day. It is sung in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi.


This song is often sung after big events or ceremonies as a song of thanks, and is known as a Gratitude Chant. It can also be sung for an individual person to give thanks or to honor their actions. This song is also in the old style.

Analysis of the Song

Oli Mahalo is highly melodic. It is based on two equal descending phrases, both beginning on the mediant. The first phrase ends on the dominant, and the second on the tonic. These phrases have as similar structure to the Western musical ‘period’.


Here is a breakdown of the phrases using cipher notation, created by taking the main melodic notes:



The phrases make rhythmic variations on this. Notes on the upbeat (eg. Ma in Mahalo) use the dominant to lead to the mediant. These two descending phrases are repeated four times, with the last line repeated as an ending.

The chant is sung in ʻŌlelo HawaiʻI, the Hawaiian language.

Cipher Notation.png
bottom of page