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Hawai’i Tourism Authority Releases Ma‘ema‘e Toolkit to Encourage Accurate Representation of The Hawaiian Islands

The Hawai’i Tourism Authority (HTA) has just released its newly updated Ma’ema’e Toolkit an enhanced cultural resource and destination brand management guide, which was created in partnership with the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association (NaHHA).

It’s intended to serve as a go-to guide for essential knowledge about Hawai’i, filled with the various specifications promoters need to accurately and authentically promote The Aloha State. It details various facets of the Hawaiian Islands’ identity, from geographical features and place names to historical, linguistic and cultural information, as well as descriptions of Hawai’i’s unique customs and traditions.


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The Toolkit’s primary purpose is to instruct members of the tourism industry, and other businesses and community organizations who play a part in portraying The Hawaiian Islands as a global visitor destination. However, it’s free and available to anyone and everyone, including those who are just interested in learning about Hawaiian culture, and the 50th state’s people, music, language, individual islands or history.

The Toolkit represents a concerted attempt at altering the way Hawai’i is depicted and marketed to the wider world, and bolsters HTA’s continual efforts to prioritize and preserve the integrity of native Hawaiian culture. With its release, the organization aims to correct the kind of misinformation, misspellings and inappropriate imagery that too often are included in the destination’s portrayal to the global public.

In the Hawaiian language, “Ma’ema’e” translates to “cleanliness and purity”, concepts connected to the project in the sense that descriptions and representations of Hawai’i should be “clean, attractive and pure”—in this case, meaning they ought to be free from misrepresentations and inaccuracies.

Hula halau dancers dressed for a performance
Hula halau dancers dressed for a performance. (Photo via Hawaii Tourism Authority Tor Johnson)

“The Ma’ema’e Toolkit provides essential information and guidance for the visitor industry and businesses to understand how to accurately represent Hawai‘i and Hawaiian culture in their bodies of work,” Kalani Ka’ana’ana, HTA’s chief brand officer, said in a statement. “A foundational component of our brand management efforts, the toolkit is utilized and amplified by our Global Marketing Team and partners throughout the world to urge authentic representation of Hawai’i’s people, places, and cultures.”

“The Ma’ema’e Toolkit, coupled with other NaHHA resources in training and education, diversifies the opportunities for the industry to learn and engage with Hawaiian culture in a more meaningful and culturally appropriate way. Thus, ensuring the representation of Hawai’i and Native Hawaiian culture by industry partners is done respectfully and responsibly,” said Malia Sanders, NaHHA’s executive director. “NaHHA appreciates the value HTA has placed in this resource to continuously partner with us to produce and integrate new updates and for HTA’s commitment to share the Ma’ema’e Toolkit more broadly with the industry and their partners.”

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