The short answer?
Manaui represents the nurturing land from which we rise, stretch out into the world, but never abandon. No matter how far we reach, we will always be connected to home – and to each other – through the strong, sinewy roots of our history, family, traditions and way of life.
Okay, but what does the word “Manaui” actually mean?
Here’s the long story:
In Samoa’s matai protocol, every ali’i (high chief) title is connected to an allotment of customary land. The ali’i in my family calls his tulaga maota – the site of his home – ‘Magaui‘.
According to my mother, this name comes from the words, ‘maga‘, an opening, and ‘ui‘, the act of turning or twisting. It refers to something our people were known for back in the day – pigeon hunting!
More specifically, it talks about the slingshot we’d use on the hunt – its Y-shaped head is the maga (opening) and ui is how we’d turn and twist it to find the perfect angle for our shot.
But I’ve loved the word Magaui since long before I knew what it meant. It reminds me that no matter where I am in the world, I’m intrinsically connected to Samoa – to my family, our traditions, our legacy – and that the precise piece of land “…from which we rise” has a name.
I’ve always been entrepreneurial and I love making up names for my little ventures, but I always knew that my one BIG project – the one that would have my heart and soul – would be for the People of Oceania.
And I knew that this project would need a name as momentous as its purpose. Magaui.
To signify that it was borrowed (and to make it easier to pronounce) I changed its spelling and found out that Manaui – with an n – is the Tongan word for a certain deciduous tree. That got me thinking…
The land(s) of our heritage.
Us, rising up from this land.
A large, flourishing tree…
(…used medicinally for childbirth).
…stretching out into the world…
…as if to share knowledge,
to breathe life…
…into new generations.
It just feels right.
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