History Of Honouliuli


The Hawaiians of old were surrounded by storied places in the ahupua‘a of Honouliuli. They believed that the natural environment was alive with gods and that when one spoke the name of a place one was recounting the relationship of the gods and mankind.

The name of the resort development at Hoakalei was inspired by the legend of the goddess Hi‘iaka, the beloved sister of Pele, and her trek across the ‘Ewa Plain. During her journey, she came to a spring of cool water and saw two lehua trees growing on either side. She made a lei of lehua blossoms, then saw her reflection adorned with lei in the spring. Hoakalei means "reflection of a lei."



Honouliuli’s Timeline

Natural history, archaeology, and historical records document the increasing tempo of change in Honouliuli. Evolutionary changes to the region took place over millions of years. Hawaiians transformed the Honouliuli landscape for about a thousand years.  Modern Honouliuli has developed in the last two centuries. 



For nearly 1,000 years, people have lived within the boundaries of Honouliuli Ahupua‘a (a native land division which stretches from the ocean to mountain ridges). Over the generations, many traditions came to life. With the passing of time, some traditions were lost, others changed, but through place names, historical narratives and the memories of kama‘āina (those who are descended from the traditional families of the land) we still find rich stories of place.

This page takes you to a repository of traditions and historical narratives of the region.

Trails of Honouliuli

Click below for an historical overview of travel and access across Honouliuli Ahupua'a. 

Honouliuli Trails

Hoakalei is an ancient name on the Honouliuli landscape. The file connected to the link below includes excerpts from Hawaiian language accounts that tell of the ancient landscape, a visit to Honouliuli by the goddess Hi‘iaka (the cherished younger sister of Pele), and of other noted places in Honouliuli. The second part of the paper includes excerpts from oral history interviews with two elder women, whose lives are intertwined with the traditions of place.

Hoakalei and Traditions of Honouliuli

The Early History of Land Tenure in Honouliuli Ahupua‘a

For the first time in modern history, a complete record of original fee-simple title for land in Honouliuli has been compiled in one source. In the years between 1847 to 1855, King Kamehameha III granted native tenants (and foreign residents who had sworn oaths of allegiance to the King), the right to acquire fee-simple title to lands they actively lived on and worked for their sustenance. The results of this Māhele ‘Āina (Division of Land) provides us with the most detailed record of traditional land use, place names and family names from Honouliuli.

To view this early history of land tenure in Honouliuli Ahupua‘a, follow the link below. The 360 page PDF file is a little over 8 mb in size, and may take a moment to download. Also, it is possible that there are a few typos in the paper. For those we apologize, and we will try to update the land tenure study as we conduct further reviews of the paper. The study is a significant addition to available resources, documenting the native families and history of Honouliuli.

The Mahele 'Āina (Land Division) at Honouliuli (1847-1855)

Ua a‘o mai nā kūpuna -- "O ka mea maika‘i mālama, a o ka mea maika‘i ‘ole, e ho‘oka‘awale aku!"

(This page will be updated regularly as historical accounts are identified.)