Ka Wahi Pana o Luluku

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By Julie Uʻilani Au and Ardena Sanoe Saarinen

Luluku is an ʻili ʻāina (smaller land division) in the ahupuaʻa (larger land division) of Kāneʻohe. Kāneʻohe is home to some of the most extensive and complex terrace systems found throughout the Hawaiian Islands.

The Luluku Stream originates mauka beneath the cascading waterfalls of the Koʻolau mountain peak known as Puʻu Keahiakahoe. It is one of the mountain range’s highest peaks and separates Moanalua Valley from Kāneʻohe. Here, the māno wai (headwaters) of Luluku Stream begin the journey makai, weaving its way into Hiʻilaniwai and Kamoʻoaliʻi streams. Heading further makai, these blended waters join with Kāneʻohe Stream eventually finding their collective way into Waikalua Loko Iʻa (fishpond), and finally to Kāneʻohe Bay.

Although some translations of Luluku allude to destruction and devastation, one of the most important resources that this ʻāina offers is its wai (fresh water), considered to be a life-giving resource.

The waters that feed the ancient terrace systems in Luluku and throughout Kāneʻohe are complex and powerful. They are also responsible for the tremendous amount of food production occurring in this region. Due to its complex terraces and stream system, Kāneʻohe has always been known as one of the most productive ahupuaʻa for planting and growing kalo and is historically noted for being an area in a high state of cultivation.

The loʻi kalo and terraces found in Kāneʻohe, including those found in Luluku, were so extensive that it was unnecessary to terrace the interior slopes as it was done in other ahupuaʻa by Kānaka kahiko (traditional Hawaiians).

The ʻili of Luluku is a wahi pana (storied place) that is at the heart of many traditions and moʻolelo. The inoa ʻāina (place names) themselves help preserve these stories for generations to come and also provide a wealth of information on either the characteristics of the land or the people these places are named for.

One such moʻolelo describes how Puʻu Keahiakahoe (Fire Hill of Kahoe) acquired its name, and provides details revealing that Luluku was known to have abundantly producing loʻi as well as for cultivating foods such as kalo and banana that have continued into modern times.

Another moʻolelo reveals that beneath Puʻu Keahiakahoe, three streams come together to form the chief water supply of Kāneʻohe. These streams are Hiʻilaniwai, Kahuaiki and Māmalahoa. According to the moʻolelo, they are each considered to be wives of Kāne – one of the four main Hawaiian gods. Tradition says that Kāne (God of freshwater) could not meet with any of his wives separately or they would become jealous and would divert the course of their water causing the people to suffer. The place where all streams converge is where they can enjoy each other’s company and decide how to best supply the people below with water.


Julie Uʻilani Au is the Hoa Noiʻi a Unuhi – Research and Translation Specialist for ʻĀina Momona. Ardena Sanoe Saarinen is the ʻAho Kuahui o Hālawa-Luluku – Interim HLID Project Coordinator.