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noun - Ali'i Alii is a word in some Polynesian languages denoting chiefly status in ancient Hawaii and the Samoa Islands. A similar word with the same concept is found in other Polynesian societies. In the Cook Islands, an ariki is a high chief and the House of Ariki is a parliamentary house (with very limited power). In New Zealand a Māori ariki held a rank of nobility and the Maori monarch held the title Te Arikinui (Great Chief) similar to Ke Aliʻi Nui in Hawaiian. In Tokelau, the term aliki denotes a chief, on Easter Island a noble was ariki, in Gambier Islands akariki, and in Tahiti the term is ari'i.

Hawaiian ali'i[edit]

In ancient Hawaiian society, ali'i was a hereditary chiefly or noble rank (social class or caste). The aliʻi class consisted of the high and lesser chiefs of the various realms in the islands. They governed with divine power called mana. The aliʻi were the highest class, ranking above both kahuna (priests) and makaʻāinana (commoners).

Most common translations are "Chief" and "High Chief", although lord and lady were sometimes considered equivalent English titles. Proposals to use prince and princess have not received broad support.


In Samoa, ali'i is a chiefly rank in the fa'amatai system which lies at the heart of the culture's socio-political organization and similar to the traditional system in Hawaii.

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