On our flight from Honolulu to Auckland I sat next to a sweet woman from New Zealand. She was very interested in Pania and we started chatting about our trips. She was returning home after visiting her brother in Seattle. I told her we were on our first family trip to New Zealand, an adventure I had been dreaming of for years. When I told her Pania’s name she immediately responded that it was such a lovely Hawaiian name. I did not correct her but smiled to myself as originally I had planned on giving her a name from Hawaii.
After arriving in New Zealand we quickly realized that we were pronouncing her name completely different than everyone else. We use a long A sound, which is common in Hawaii, while in New Zealand it was shortened. Once we arrived in Napier to visit the statue behind the myth, we asked Pania which way she preferred. Her response was to pronounce it the way we always had.
My father was born in Auckland and as I was named after him I felt it was important to give her a name from New Zealand. After this trip I realized that even though her name is from New Zealand she is from Hawaii and I believe it is special to have it connected to both places. If you are not familiar with the myth of Pania it is a beautiful story about a woman of the sea. She came to shore and fell in love with a chief but in the end returned back to the sea. They say there is a reef formation that is in the shape of a woman. This is why she is called Pania goddess of the reef.
I hope you enjoyed hearing the story behind Pania’s name and why this trip was so important to us. I have also created a travel video of our stay in Napier on my channel.
Lots of Aloha,