Let the Storied Place Names Live!

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Read this article in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi

According to Edward Kanahele (1995), there are stories connected to place names; hence, the term “storied places.” Elbert said that 89% of the place names in Hawaiʻi are Hawaiian names. The right thing to do is to restore our storied places.

In ʻEwa, you will see Puʻu Kapolei where Kamaunuaniho, the grandmother of Kamapuaʻa, lived. That hill is not called Fort Barrette. That’s a military structure. There are many stories about Puʻu Kapolei although it stands in a desolate area. In “Hiʻiakaikapoliopele,” Puʻukapolei and Nāwāhineʻōmaʻomaʻo are known for their lei-making.

Perhaps you’ve driven upon Kualakai Parkway in ʻEwa. Kualakai is a sea creature and the name of a land section where Hilo One (Nimitz Beach) is. There, Hiʻiaka sees Hoakalei, a pool, and two lehua trees stood with which she sews lei. She sees the reflection of her older sibling, Kapo, in Maui. Kapo, thus, named the pool and the names are being used in new developments.

Thanks go to Hawaiian civic clubs for place names restoration. The Hawaiian Civic Club of Kapolei encouraged the proper use of Puʻu Kapolei instead of Fort Barrette, Kalaeloa instead of Barber’s Point, and Kualakai instead of Nimitz Beach. The Koʻolaupoko Hawaiian Civic Club erected ahupuaʻa boundary markers for Hakipuʻu, Heʻeia, Kaʻalaea, Kahaluʻu, Kailua, Kāneʻohe, Kualoa, Waiāhole, Waiheʻe, Waikāne, and Waimānalo.

The restoration of Hawaiian place names has been beneficial. Therefore, at East Oʻahu, Maunalua should be used instead of Hawaiʻi Kai (Kaiser); at West Oʻahu, Keawaʻula instead of Yokohama Bay; northward, Kaʻōhao is proper instead of Lanikai; southward, Awalau o Puʻuloa instead of Pearl Harbor. What about Red Hill? It should be Kapūkakī! Let’s use Hawaiian place names. In doing so the stories and knowledge of our ancestors live. Let the storied names live!