I miss my walking Moai!

No, it’s not one of THOSE Moai!  Let’s leave the Moai of Easter Island in peace and travel west because I’m talking about the Moai of the Okinawans. 

The Okinawans are one of the “Blue Zone” peoples, those who have high levels of people living quality lives into their 80s, 90s and even 100s.  One of the things their longevity can be attributed to is the “Moai”.  The definition of Moai in Japanese is as follows:

Mo•ai (/mo,eye/) Japan


  1. A group of lifelong friends
  2. A social support group that forms in order to provide varying support from social, financial, health, or spiritual interests

Aislinn Kotifani, Communications Manager at Blue Zones describes it like this: 

Elders in Okinawa, Japan, one of the original blue zones longevity hotspots, live extraordinarily better and longer lives than almost anyone else in the world. Moai, one of their longevity traditions, are social support groups that start in childhood and extend into the 100s. The term originated hundreds of years ago as a means of a village’s financial support system. Originally, moais were formed to pool the resources of an entire village for projects or public works.  If an individual needed capital to buy land or take care of an emergency, the only way was to pool money locally. Today the idea has expanded to become more of a social support network, a cultural tradition for built-in companionship.

In small neighborhoods across Okinawa, friends “meet for a common purpose” (sometimes daily and sometimes a couple days a week) to gossip, experience life, and to share advice and even financial assistance when needed. They call these groups their moai.

Traditionally, groups of about five young children were paired together and it’s then that they made a commitment to each other for life. As their second family, they would meet regularly with their moai for both work and play and to pool resources. Some moais have lasted over 90 years!

When I lived in Papua New Guinea, I belonged to a walking Moai (we didn’t call it that, but that’s what it was).  I was a part of a group of friends that walked regularly in the morning.  At first, I was a bit reluctant but my dear friend would arrive and (due to my high Connectedness strength not wanting to let the team down) I would go walking.  What an impact it had on me.  We huffed and puffed our way up the hills of Port Moresby, spurring each other to greater physical fitness.  We walked our way through things, big things.  We laughed, we cried, we gave and received advice, we gave and were offered support for everything life was throwing at us.  How I miss them.

Social connectedness via such relationships as Moai literally add years to your life.  You are happier, less stressed and live longer. 

I recently got to chatting with one of my Moai mates and like the old adage says, “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone”.  I miss my Moai, even 13+ years since leaving PNG.  I need a new walking Moai.  Or maybe a strengths Moai.  Are you in?  

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About the Wayfinders' Blog

The Wayfinders’ Blog helps individuals, teams and organisations discover and develop their unique strengths. I provide valuable insights and practical tips to my audience empowering them to develop their talents into strengths and achieve their goals.

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