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foremost traditional Hawaiian scholar of the twentieth century, Puku'i, 15/ records a Hawaiian proverb that explains how the position of ali'i was created from within the maka'ainana:
- Kuneki na ku'auhau li'ili'i, noho mai i lalo; ho'okahi no, 'o ko ke ali'i ke pi'i i ka 'i'o.
- (Let the lesser genealogies sit below; that of the ali'i alone should be raised up towards significance.)
What this means is that the people put forth the flower of their families as their representative and de-emphasized the rest of the family to give added prominence to that representative. (Of course once their representative is recognized and admired, the status of everyone else is assured as well by genealogical connection.) The ali'i were the flower of the maka'ainana, within the ideals of both the base and aesthetic culture. The family relationship remains intact, although individuals maintain distances.
In Hawaiian base culture much emphasis is put on first-born children. In today's Hawaiian families the oldest child often has control over the younger children, and respect and even some authority is carried by the first-born child even in to adulthood with respect to his or her younger siblings. The Hawaiian language itself always distinguishes older from younger sibling in its kinship terms. The importance of birth order even carries into the extended family, with the term used for a cousin depending on the relative age of the connecting parent. In their base culture, then, Hawaiians put much emphasis on birth order and the prestige of being first-born. The aesthetic culture supports this with special ceremonies for first-born children and traditions of giving them special name songs, or similar special recognition.
Genealogies are made more prominent by including first-born children, and the person chosen to represent the people as ali'i is usually from the genealogy with the most first-born children and lineages in it. In a more traditional Hawaiian interpretation, then, ali'i and maka'ainana are kin terms with the ali'i representing the equivalent of kaikua'ana, "older sibling of the same sex or cousin related to one through an older sibling of one's parent." The grammar of the language itself strengthens the identification of ali'i and maka'ainana as kin terms, since they use the O-class possessive markers characteristic of the possession of kin. That is , the ali'i says ko'u maka'ainana, "my maka 'ainana" (note the o of k o'u), and the maka'ainana says ko'u ali'i, "my ali'i. " The use of the O-class possessive markers here contrasts with the use of A-class possessive markers used with ordinary material goods possessed by a person, and even hired hands, and spouses, who are treated as A-class and less intimately bound with one than O-class possessed items. 16/
Even the rigid "taboos" (kapu) as described in English books on Hawaiian culture are not as the English language makes them appear. The kapu are actually associated with a lineage through an historical or legendary event, the emphasizing of which through ceremonial observation stresses the status of the lineage (ali'i and maka'ainana as one). When the people (and even nature, as happens in the traditional context) recognize these kapu by lighting torches at day, sitting before an ali'i, allowing the ali'i to move only at night, or observing rainbows
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