What's in a Name?
Updated: May 2
In ancient Hawai‘i, the practice of naming places was so widespread that all areas of the land and sea could be identified by name: from beaches, bays, and ocean channels, to points, hills, plains, valleys, mountains, and ridge lines. Names were often inspired by the characteristics of the land. They can be literal or metaphoric. They might be commemorative of a person or event. Sometimes their meaning is mysterious and impossible to decipher. In a name, you can often find a bit of information about a place prior to contact with the West.
Hawaiians have long considered a name (or inoa) to be a person’s most important possession. It’s believed that a name has mana (an influencing power or lifeforce) and because of this, the name becomes a living entity, capable of causing beneficial outcomes for the person or thing named. It's no surprise that names were chosen only after careful thought and consultation.
It's in this spirit that we approached the re-branding of Nāpili Village. We kept the name, of course. But the correct spelling of Nāpili includes the kahakō, or macron, over the first a. This tells you where to put the emphasis, and its inclusion or absence can mean the difference between one meaning and something else entirely.
Pili is a type of native grass, and traditionally, you'd see it in the construction of hale (dwellings). A hale pili is the term for the quintessential Hawaiian grass shack. Nā-pili is simply pili in its plural form. While we can only guess as to what Nāpili was like in in ancient Hawaiʻi, its name suggests that there was lots and lots of pili grass. And how wonderful is that? This source of shelter and protection from the heat and rain in ancient Hawai'i is in the name of this place we come to for rest and relaxation.
Pili also means to cling to or stick to. It can be a physical thing, like the way that the seeds of the pili grass would cling to your clothing if you were to walk through a field of it. And it can also be an emotional thing. If you feel close to a person or place, the two of you are pili to each another.
And it's these elements that we've sought to capture in our new logo. A letter "N" (for Nāpili) is formed with grass-like lines inspired by the pili grass. The single strand joining the two halves of the logo speaks the stickiness of pili – a connection we hope our guests have to Nāpili, a place that stays with you long after you leave.