It’s the word of the day, but it’s more challenging to pronounce than Kalanianaole (Highway).

Papahanaumokuakea (or Papahānaumokuākea, if you include the diacritical marks) is the name of the marine national monument that was just increased fourfold in size by President Obama.

Well, you can listen to the correct pronunciation of it here and learn more about its meaning here.

Red pencil urchin at Papahanaumokuakea.
Red pencil urchin at Papahanaumokuakea. James Watt

Or, you can read this: Pa-pa-hah-now-mo-koo-ah-keh-ah.

Here’s more on the meaning, courtesy of the monument’s official website:

Papahānaumokuākea is considered a sacred area, from which Native Hawaiians believe all life springs, and to which spirits return to after death. There are many wahi pana (places of great cultural significance and practice), which, like a lei, are strung together throughout the expanse of the ten main atolls and islands. Papahānaumokuākea is also a place for Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners of today to reconnect with their ancestors and gods, who they believe are manifested in nature, as with the Polynesian deity Kanaloa, who they believe is embodied by the vast expansive ocean, and can take the form of all life within it.

And this:

Taken apart, “Papa” (earth mother), “hānau” (birth), “moku” (small island or large land division), and “ākea” (wide) bespeak a fertile woman giving birth to a wide stretch of islands beneath a benevolent sky. Taken as one long name, Papahānaumokuākea can be seen as a symbol of hope and regeneration for the Kūpuna Islands and the main Hawaiian Islands. And through the mana (spiritual power) of Papahānaumokuākea’s name, one that encourages abundance and the procreative forces of earth, sea, and sky, the Native Hawaiian people hope that the cultural, spiritual and physical health of their people will grow as well.

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