Aloha from Maui nō ka ‘oi.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Maui nō ka ‘oi, Hawaiian for “Maui is the best,” was cooked up by some marketing wiz to promote tourism. But you’d be wrong. The saying dates back centuries.

Ancient Hawaiians across the archipelago had a history of chant that included mele ho‘o‘ike‘ike, chants that were defined by their blatant bragging. Mele ho‘o‘ike‘ike could be quite rousing and often boastful of a particular beloved location.

Know that when you repeat “Maui nō ka ‘oi,” you are continuing a tradition that began with ancient Hawaiian chant, and two centuries of Maui song.

This print from the late 1800s depicts the town of Wailuku at the foot of West Maui’s mountain. In the foreground sits Ka‘ahumanu Church, whose reverends gave song to the saying Maui nō ka ‘oi.