Storied Places

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. Through place names, many wahi pana (storied and sacred places) are found to exist, and for Hawaiians today, those wahi pana remain important.

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.

A Tradition of Kamapua‘a

S. W. Kahiolo contributed the tradition of Kamapua‘a to the native newspaper Ka Hae Hawaii in 1861.1 This is the earliest detailed account of Kamapua‘a, a multi-formed deity of traditional significance on O‘ahu, and all the major islands of the Hawaiian group. The Hawaiian deity Kamapua‘a is a part of the Lono god-force, and possessed many body forms, or kinolau, representing both human and various facets of nature.

A Little Story and Some Chants; Traditions of Hi‘iaka-i-ka-poli-o-Pele

The epic tradition of the goddess Pele and her youngest sister, Hi‘iaka-i-ka-poli-o-Pele, a.k.a. Hi‘iaka, spans the entire Hawaiian Archipelago, and even beyond, to Kahiki, the ancestral home of the gods. The tradition is the source of many descriptions of places, place names, beliefs, and knowledge of traditional and customary practices. As in the account below, “He Wahi Kaao a me kekahi Mele pu,” published in 1860, portions of the tradition were also cited in excerpts to remind people of various facets of knowledge that was recorded in the larger account.

Place Name Series, 1883

In 1883, the Honolulu newspaper Saturday Press ran a series of articles to acquaint readers with place names and their meanings from around Hawai‘i. Among the names cited were several from Honouliuli:

The names given below are Hawaiian geographical names, towns, estates, mountains, valleys, bays, rivers, etc., which English readers are likely to come across in historical or newspaper reading. Translations are given when a satisfactory English rendering is possible. This dictionary will be continued as possible.1

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.