Storied Places of Honouliuli Cited in Native Traditions and Historical Records

From the earliest of human times, the Hawaiian landscape has been alive with spiritual beliefs, traditions, customs, and practices. Unfortunately, with the passing of time, irretrievable traditional knowledge has been lost. This is in part a result of the rapid decline of the native population, and enforcement of restrictions placed upon Hawaiians in education and all facets of life which culminated in the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom Government in 1893. By 1900, English became the official language of the schools and government, and native Hawaiian children were punished at school for speaking their ‘ōlelo makuahine (mother tongue/language). Thus, slowly but steadily, children and grandchildren were distanced from their elders, and the passing on of mo‘olelo (traditions) of place, family, and practice—traditional knowledge—was largely cut off.1

The loss of language, practice, and land were accompanied by changing demographics and the development of large plantations, sprawling communities, military complexes, and resorts. These changes led to the destruction of noted traditional places, or loss of access to sites where traditional and customary practices occurred. Thus, it became difficult, if not impossible, to pass on the experience of practice and familiarity with wahi pana—those sites which would qualify in their native culture and communities as “traditional cultural properties.”

Even with all that has been lost, research in Hawaiian-language materials, historical literature, and in the knowledge of families descended from traditional residents of the land reveals a wealth of history through place names, and in some instances through ongoing practices. Through place names, many wahi pana (storied and sacred places) are found to exist, and for Hawaiians today, those wahi pana remain important. In this modern age, and often in the context of historic preservation, it is the biggest sites and features—such as heiau and mass ilina—that are determined to be the most significant. But Hawaiians have observed that “The land is not sacred because the heiau is there. The heiau is there because the land is sacred.” This sacredness is conveyed in the cultural attachment shared between Hawaiians and the ‘āina (land/natural environment) that nurtured and sustained them and their relationship with the ilina of their ancestors who rose from and returned to the embrace of the ‘āina. This living and ongoing sacredness also implies that there need not be physical remnants of “traditional properties and features” on the ground. When all else is lost, it is enough to speak the names and pass on the knowledge of place.

Inoa ‘Āina: Place Names

By learning place names and their traditions, even if only fragmented accounts remain, one begins to see a rich cultural landscape unfold on the lands of Honouliuli Ahupua‘a. There are a number of place names that have survived the passing of time. The occurrence of place names demonstrates the broad relationship of the natural landscape to the culture and practices of the Hawaiian people. In A Gazetteer of the Territory of Hawaii, Coulter [7] observed that Hawaiians had place names for all manner of feature, ranging from “outstanding cliffs” to what he described as “trivial land marks” [7:10]. In 1902, W. D. Alexander, former Surveyor General of the Kingdom—and later government—of Hawai‘i, wrote an account of “Hawaiian Geographic Names” [2]. Under the heading “Meaning of Hawaiian Geographic Names” he observed,

It is very difficult, if not impossible, to translate most of these names, on account of their great antiquity and the changes of which many of them have evidently undergone. It often happens that a word may be translated in different ways by dividing it differently. Many names of places in these islands are common to other groups of islands in the South Pacific, and were probably brought here with the earliest colonists. They have been used for centuries without any thought of their original meaning. [2]

History further tells us that named locations were significant in past times, and it has been observed that “Names would not have been given to [or remembered if they were] mere worthless pieces of topography” [14:412].

In ancient times, named localities served a variety of functions, telling people about (i) places where the gods walked the earth and changed the lives of people for good or worse; (ii) heiau or other features of ceremonial importance; (iii) triangulation points such as ko‘a (ceremonial markers) for fishing grounds and fishing sites; (iv) residences and burial sites; (v) areas of planting; (vi) water sources; (vii) trails and trailside resting places (o‘io‘ina), such as a rock shelter or tree-shaded spot; (viii) the sources of particular natural resources/resource collection areas, or any number of other features; or (ix) notable events which occurred at a given area. Through place names, knowledge of the past and places of significance were handed down across countless generations.

1J. W. H. I. Kihe, “Na Hoomanao o ka Manawa,” Ka Hoku o Hawaii, June 5th and 12th, 1924.

Related Documents

Aihonu  An ili cited in claims of the Mahele.

Haalelenui An ili cited in claims of the Mahele.

Haleauau An upland region between Puukuua and Kanehoa. Cited in the tradition of Hiiaka-i-ka-poli-o-Pele.

Hanakahi (Lae o Halakahi) Puuloa/Honouliuli. Site named for a man who resided at this place, and who called upon the unknown gods, making offerings and asking for their blessings in his livelihood as a fisherman. Kane and Kanaloa heard his prayers and visited him, granting his request because of his faithfulness to them. They built fishponds at Keanapuaa, Kepookala, and at Kapakule for him. Kapākule near the shore of Keahi, was the best formed of the ponds, and fed Hanakahi’s family and later generations of Ewa residents for hundreds of years. Cited in “Na Wahi Pana o Ewa” [1]. The fishery boundary of Hanakahi (Halakahi) was disputed with Halawa.

Hilo-one  A coastal area famed in mele from the tradition of Hiiaka-i-ka-poli-o-Pele. 

Hoakalei  A coastal spring famed in mele from the tradition of Hiiaka-i-ka-poli-o-Pele.

Honouliuli   Ahupuaa. In one tradition, Honouliuli is named for a chief of the same name, who was the husband of Kapalama. They were the parents of Lepeamoa and Kauilani, two heroes in ancient tradition. Numerous claims cited in the Mahele, though the awarded claims were generally in the “taro lands” section of Honouliuli1 in a watered area. In traditional times, the land area known as Puuloa was an ili of Honouliuli, though it was sold as a separate land during the time of the Mahele. All native tenant claims made for kuleana at Puuloa were given up by the claimants. “Large terrace areas are shown on the U. S. Geological survey map of Oahu (1917) bordering West Loch of Pearl Harbor, the indication being that these are still under cultivation. I am told that taro is still grown here. This is evidently what is referred to as ‘Ewa taro lands.’ Of the Honouliuli coral plains McAllister (44, site 146) says: ‘…It is probable that the holes and pits in the coral were formerly used by the Hawaiians. Frequently the soil on the floor of the larger pits was used for cultivation, and even today one comes upon bananas and Hawaiian sugar cane still growing in them’ ” [13:82].

Hopeiki & Hopenui Honouliuli, Waikele, and Waipio, ili lands. Cited in claims of the Mahele.

Kaaimalu Waiawa Ahupuaa, associated with Kualakai. This storied land and spring site was named for a young girl and her brother who ate their fish in secret (ai malu). A palani fish had been caught along the shore at Kualakai (Honouliuli). Having no further luck in catching fish, the two children set out on their trip home. They followed the path past Puuokapolei, and along the plains of Kaupea, and went on to Pueohulunui and Kalipahee. From there they went down to Waiawa Stream. There, the children stopped to rest and drink water. Because they had only one fish, the sister suggested that they eat it prior to their return home, where it would have to be shared. The two ate their fish, and were the first to break the ai kapu by being members of the opposite sex eating with one another. The god Kekuaolelo, dwelling in the uplands at Puunahawele, heard their conversation and called out to them repeating what they had said. Because of this event, the name Kaaimalu, meaning “the sheltered or peaceful food or eating,” was given to this place.2 Cited in the traditions of Maihea, Makanikeoe, “Na Wahi Pana o Ewa” [1], and claims of the Mahele.

Kahahapu An ili cited in claims of the Mahele.

Kaihuopalaai  An ili and fishery. Cited in claims of the Mahele. This place was famed in ancient times for its anae. Kaulu and Apokaa3 were the parents of two supernatural children: son Kaihuopalaai and daughter Kaihukuuna. When Kaihuopalaai matured, he married Kaohai. To Kaihuopalaai and Kaohai were born a son, Puhi o Laumeki, and a daughter, Kapapapuhi. Their story is told in the traditions of Ka Anae o Kaihuopalaai and Makanikeoe, and oral history interviews.

Kalaeokane  An area disputed between the people of Honouliuli and Waikele. Site of the ancient village, Kupalii.4 The name translates as “The point of Kane,” and may be suggested to be associated with the tradition of a visit by the gods Kane and Kanaloa to the region. Cited in the tradition of Maihea.

Kaloi  Kaloi (Kaloi) is a traditional name used at several areas in Honouliuli Ahupuaa that are all connected by a series of gulches from the uplands near the 2,200 foot elevation to the shore. Following the ethno-historical record, the names Kaloi, Kaloi iki, Kaloi liilii, and Kaloi loa follow from the uplands to the taro land region of Honouliuli, with the latter names being cited in Land Commission Award (LCA) Helu 901, 1570, and 1713. There is no reference to Kalo‘i in the Oneula vicinity. Cited in claims of the Mahele.

Kamaomao An area on the kula lands within view of Puu o Kapolei, and associated with Kaupea. Named for a supernatural woman who dwelt in the area. The flat land plains of wandering spirits (also see Kaupea). Cited in the tradition of Hiiaka-i-ka-poli-o-Pele and in historical narratives.

Kamooiki  An ili cited in claims of the Mahele.

Kanehili Honouliuli/Puuloa. An open kula land, noted in tradition for its association with Kaupea, and as a place of wandering spirits. An inhospitable zone. Cited in the tradition of Hiiaka-i-ka-poli-o-Pele and in historical narratives.

Kanehoa A mountain pass, famed in traditional lore and mele. Noted for its growth of kupukupu ferns, and the wind, Waikoloa, which blows from the mountains to the sea. Cited in the traditions of Hiiaka-i-ka-poli-o-Pele and in historical narratives.

Kaolina (Koolina) An ancient village site on the western shore, between Lae Loa and Pili o Kahe. Cited in the tradition of Hiiaka-i-ka-poli-o-Pele and historical narratives.

Kapakule Puuloa-Honouliuli. A fishpond/fish trap on the inner shore of Puuloa (across from Halawa), made by the gods Kane and Kanaloa, for the benefit of Hanakahi who faithfully worshipped them. Cited in the tradition of Maihea and oral history interviews.

Kapapapuhi Honouliuli-Hoaeae boundary zone. A small point on the shore between these two ahupuaa. Also the name of a fishery for Honouliuli. Kapapapuhi was named for the daughter of Kaihuopalaai and Kaohai, whose history is told in the traditions of Makanikeoe and Puhi o Laumeki, and oral history interviews.

Kapuna Waikele Ahupuaa. A place of kapa makers, loi kalo, and houses. The fishery fronting Kapuna belonged to Honouliuli. The people of Kapuna had a way of avoiding the payment of tribute. When the Waikele collector came along, they would claim that they were of Honouliuli; and when the Honouliuli collector came along, they would claim they were of Waikele. Their homes were in Waikele, but their fish belonged to Honouliuli [15:32]. Kapuna was a cave in which chiefs of ancient times once lived. Cited in “Na Wahi Pana o Ewa” [1] and claims of the Mahele.

Kaulu Hoaeae-Honouliuli boundary zone. An ancient village site, known as “Coneyville” in historic times, named for John H. Coney.5 Reportedly named for the chief, Ka-ulu-hua-i-ka-hapapa [28:93].

Kaupea An area noted as the wandering place of the spirits of the dead, who are seeking their way to another realm. An uninhabited plain with wiliwili trees and ohai plants, and associated with Kanehili and Leiolono. From Kaupea, one may see Leiolono where unclaimed spirits are lost on never-ending darkness. Cited in traditions and oral history interviews.

Keahi Puuloa-Honouliuli. An ancient village site named for a beautiful woman who once lived there. For a time, the demi-god Kamapuaa also lived at Keahi. In the tradition of Kaihuopalaai, Keahi and Mokuoeo6  were named as companions. Cited in “Na Wahi Pana o Ewa” [1], in claims of the Mahele, and in oral history interviews.

Keahumoa The kula on the inland slopes of Ewa including Kunia, which continues up to Lihue on one side, and is bounded by Kipapa on the other side. The area was once extensively cultivated with native crops, planted originally by Kaopele. The fields could be seen when looking makai from the mountain pass at Pohakea. Cited in the traditions of Hiiaka-i-ka-poli-o-Pele and Kalelealuaka. Also situated at Keahumoa are two famous mala uala (sweet potato fields) which bear the name Namakaokapaoo. Pualii was killed here; later, a king of Oahu and his warriors were also killed here. Cited in the tradition “Kaao no Namakaokapaoo” [11:274–283].

Keoneae An area situated along the old trail between Honouliuli and Waianae, on the Puuloa side of Puuokapolei.

Kepookala (Pookala) Waipio Ahupuaa. Associated with the fishery of Honouliuli. The point that juts into Ke awa lau o Puuloa (Pearl Harbor), at the end of Waipio peninsula. Kepookala marks the boundary between the fisheries of Honouliuli and Halawa. Kane and Kanaloa made a fishpond here, but were dissatisfied with its walls so they left it. Cited in “Na Wahi Pana o Ewa” [1].

Kohepalaoa Puuloa-Honouliuli. An ili and fishpond. Cited in claims of the Mahele, and in historic narratives of Puuloa.

Kuaiopelu  Honouliuli. An ili. Cited in claims of the Mahele.

Kualakai Honouliuli. An ancient village site situated on the western shore. In a sinkhole cave at this place, an ulu tree was planted by the deified navigator Kahai, and there had been hidden sacred objects for Namakaokapaoo [9]. Cited in native traditions, claims of the Mahele, and oral history interviews.

Kumuhau Honouliuli. An ili cited in claims of the Mahele.

Kumumamo Honouliuli coastal plains. Cited in historical mele.

Kunia An upland ili, part of the larger Keahumoa plains, and site of a battle in the time of Kualii.

Kupaka A former village site in the ili of Puuloa, situated on the ocean-fronting shore of Honouliuli, west of Keahi, and marked on historical maps with a stone wall complex. Cited in historical accounts and oral history interviews.

Kupalii A village site at Kalaeokane. The area disputed between the people of Honouliuli and Waikele: “in assessing the ancient tax, putting houses on the line so as to evade both.”7

Lae o Kahuka Puuloa-Honouliuli. A point marked by a large pile of stones along the inner shore of Ke awa lau o Puuloa.

Laeloa (Kalaeloa) A low point of land now known as Barber’s Point. Cited in traditions, historical accounts, and oral history interviews.

Lihue An upland plain and lower mountain region. Waikoloa is a strong wind of Lihue that blows from the uplands to the lowlands.8 Mauunene is a light breeze that blows down the slopes of Lihue to the lowlands of Ewa. Cited in “Na Wahi Pana o Ewa” [1].

Manawaielelu Honouliuli, Hoaeae, and Waikele boundary junction zone. A gulch near Poliwai, and site of an ancient holua track.9

Miki Waikele Ahupuaa, disputed with Honouliuli. Kalaeokane sits on the shore of the ili. Cited in claims of the Mahele.

Mokumeha Named for a son of Kaihuopala‘ai and Kaohai, the brother of Laumeki. Cited in the tradition of Puhi o Laumeki and in claims of the Mahele.

Mookapu Honouliuli-Waikele boundary zone. An ancient path which leads into Waianae uka.10

Namakaokapaoo An area of mala uala (sweet potato fields) situated on the plain of Keahumoa, a short distance below Kipapa. Named for a youth who once lived nearby. Cited in the tradition “Kaao no Namakaokapaoo” [11:274–283].

Nawahineokamaomao An area on the kula lands named for a companion of Puu o Kapolei. Cited in the tradition of Hiiaka-i-ka-poli-o-Pele.

Palaau  An ili cited in claims of the Mahele.

Papio An area in the bay fronting Honouliuli where the chiefess of the same name was killed in an act of anger by the shark-goddess, Kaahupahau.  Koihala, Kaahupahau’s human attendant, was insulted by Papio, and asked that she be killed. The site is also referred to as “Kanahunaopapio.” The coral body form of Kaahupahau is also found near this site.11

Pau-kuu-loa, “Aole i pau kuu loa” Waikele-Honouliuli. A nearshore land and fishery below Hoaeae, fronting Ulemoku.12 The source of naming this place is found in the tradition of Puukuua. Cited in “Na Wahi Pana o Ewa” [1].

Peekaua Situated on the plain between Puuokapolei and Waimanalo. A place famed in the tradition of Hiiaka’s journey across Ewa. Peekaua is found on the mauka side of the trail, where there is a large rock standing on the plain. Cited in the tradition of Hiiaka-i-ka-poli-o-Pele.

Piliokahe The boundary marker between Honouliuli, Ewa, and Nanakuli of the Waianae District. The boundary was made during the journey of Kane and Kanaloa across Ewa. During their game of ulu maika, the boundaries were set by where the stone stopped rolling. Cited in traditions and historical accounts.

Pohakea A famed mountain pass over which an ancient trail between Honouliuli and Waianae crossed. Noted in several native traditions for its commanding view plane to the lowlands and noted places of the Ewa District. One branch of the trail to Pohakea passed near Puuokapolei. Cited in the traditions of Kane, Kanaloa, and Hiiaka-i-ka-poli-o-Pele.

Pohaku Mokomoko A stone on the shore marking the boundary between Honouliuli and Hoaeae, situated along the side of the government road.13

Pohakupalahalaha A “well known rock along the trail” between Honouliuli and Hoaeae.14

Poohilo An ili named from events following a battle in the Kipapa-Waikakalaua region, in ca. 1400s, in which the head of Hilo (an invading chief from Hawaii) was placed on a stake at this site and displayed. A named locality cited in project area claims of the Mahele.

Puukuua A hill of the inland region of Honouliuli. A place where chiefs once lived, and a battlefield. It is said that the place named “Pau kuu loa” originated from a practice of the people here at Puukuua. Kane and Kanaloa tired of working, and set aside their work here to return to Kahiki. Cited in “Na Wahi Pana o Ewa” [1].

Puuloa This land was traditionally an ili of Honouliuli, and marked the entrance to Ke awa lau o Puuloa: the many bays of Puuloa—Pearl Harbor, Pearl River, or Wai Momi. The waters of Puuloa were protected by the shark goddess Kaahupahau, her brother, Kahiuka, and the little shark god Ka-ehu-iki-mano- o-Puuloa. Cited in traditions, historical accounts, and oral history interviews.

Puu-o-Kapo-lei This hill was named for the goddess Kapo, an elder sister of Pele. It was also the home of the supernatural grandmother of the demigod Kamapuaa.15 S. M. Kamakau recorded the tradition that Puu o Kapolei was used by the people of O‘ahu to mark the seasons of the year. When the sun set over the hill, it was Kau, summer. When the sun moved south, setting beyond the hill, it was Hooilo, winter [17:14]. The old government road passed behind this puu. Puukuua is viewed further inland from this hill. The plains around this region were covered with sugarcane by the late 1890s. A heiau once situated on this hill and a rock shelter were destroyed in the early 1900s [22:108, Site 138]. Cited in traditions, historical accounts, and oral history interviews.

Puu Palailai A hill situated northwest of Puu o Kapolei. Palailai is cited in mele recorded in the tradition of Hiiaka-i-ka-poli-o-Pele.

Waimanalo An ili. This is one of the wai (watered lands) granted to priests of the Lono class by the demigod Kamapuaa. During the time of Kakuhihewa, king of Oahu ca. 1500s, Waimanalo was home of a priest named Napuaikamao. It was this priest who traveled to Koolina, where Kakuhihewa was waiting, and foretold that Kalelealuaka would gain victory in the battles being brought to Oahu’s shores. Cited in claims of the Mahele.

Wanue An area near the Kapapapuhi region of the Honouliuli shoreline, named for a relative of Kaihuopalaai. Cited in “Ka Anae o Kaihuopalaai,” 1895.

Waipouli A cave situated about five miles below Namakaokapaoo and the Keahumoa plain. The place where the head of Pualii was thrown after he was killed.  The cave was used for a time as a shelter to hide Pokai, mother of Namakaokapaoo. Cited in the tradition “Kaao no Namakaokapaoo” [11:274– 283].

1See Registered Map No. 630.

2Hawaiian Place Names,

3Husband and wife; also named localities.

4Boundary Commission proceedings.

5Boundary Commission proceedings, 1873.

6An island in the sea fronting Moanalua.

7Honouliuli Boundary Commission proceedings, 1873.

8Cited in the tradition of Ku-a-Pakaa [24].

9Boundary Commission proceedings.

10Boundary Commission proceedings, 1873.

11He Moolelo Kaao Hawaii no Keliikau o Kau, March 15, 1902.

12Boundary Commission proceedings, 1873.

13Boundary Commission proceedings, 1875.

14Boundary Commission Proceedings, 1873.

15He Moolelo no Kamapuaa, 1861.