Aloha Authentic: History of the Mu’umu’u

Aloha Authentic

HONOLULU (KHON2) — In Hawaiʻi, names are very important as they tell a moʻolelo, a story, and that includes the names of our roadways. 

Do you know the meaning of the street you live on? 

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For four years now, KHON’s weekly “Aloha Authentic” segment highlights various roadways around the islands so we can dig into the given name and, as a result, learn more about Hawaiʻi’s history. 

This week, we pay homage to January being known as Muʻumuʻu Month. In the ahupuaʻa of Honouliuli, which lies in the moku of ʻEwa here on Oʻahu, stands a short street named after a simple piece of clothing.  We are talking about Muʻumuʻu Place.

In ancient Hawaiʻi, clothing was very simple. While men wore a malo, or loin cloth, women often wore a piece of bark cloth around their hips which is referred to as a pāʻū. But when the missionaries arrived in 1820, their women wore New England-styled full dresses. 

As they adapted to the warm weather, so did their attire, resulting in a basic dress referred to as “Mother Hubbard.”

Early Native Hawaiian Christian converts adopted the long-skirted dress for themselves which became known as a Holokū. For more practicality, pieces of the holokū were removed to create what became known as a muʻumuʻu, which literally translates as “cut off or shortened.” 

Over the generations, muʻumuʻu became a favorite for women of Hawaiʻi and abroad, ever-evolving with the style of the time. 

In an effort to preserve and celebrate the legacy of the muʻumuʻu, January 2015 was designated as the first Muʻumuʻu Month as a result of a social media campaign. As the muʻumuʻu-vement has grown since then, January 2022 has once again been proclaimed as Muʻumuʻu Month.

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