Ka Wai Ola

Photo: Claire Kuʻuleilani Hughes‘Ōlelo No‘eau #2484

Hawai‘i streets and places are named, mostly, for native plants, places, geographical characteristics, historical events, and famous inhabitants. Our newer sub-divisions have thematically named streets in our ‘olelo Hawai‘i (Hawaiian language). Learning about these names can open new doors of wonder. Examples cited here, come from the southeasternmost district on O‘ahu, Maunalua (two mountains). Maunalua was named for its two volcanic tuff cones, Koko (blood) Head and Koko Crater. Kawena Pukui and Mr. Theodore Kelsey agree that the koko (blood) part of the name, probably originated from the red soil at Koko landing…a small canoe landing on the Wai‘alae (mudhen water) side of Koko Head. Or perhaps, it was for the blood (koko) from a man bitten by a shark at the landing. Historically, Maunalua was an ‘ili (land section) of Waimānalo (potable water) in O‘ahu’s Ko‘olaupoko (short windward) district. Maunalua became a part of O‘ahu’s Kona (southern) district in mid-1800’s.

Back then, Maunalua was home to a large ancient, “storied”, fishpond named, Keahupua o Maunalua (The shrine of the baby mullet of Maunalua). The fishpond was called, Kuapā (fishpond wall), and was built by menehune for Chiefess Mahoe. Kuapā was 523 acres in size. Its walls began immediately beyond the district of Kuli‘ou‘ou (sounding knee – knee drum). Henry J. Kaiser’s development company partially-filled Kuapā, creating new land and a marina for his Hawai‘i-Kai community. In ancient Hawai‘i, Maunalua was known as a sweet potato growing area, its notable heiau(s) and the beautiful Maunalua Bay. There are many “storied places and objects” along its eastern coast, as well as within the district. Today, Maunalua boasts numerous tourist sights, namely: the Makapu‘u lighthouse, Hālona (peering place) Blow Hole, Sandy Beach, Hanauma Bay at Koko Crater, Koko Head Botanical Gardens and the Koko Head stairs. These “stairs” were built by the U.S. Military during World War II and, supported rails for a tram that hauled heavy military gear and ammunition to the defense emplacement built atop Koko Head.

Annually, thousands of tourists and residents stop at the Hālona, Blow Hole, for a panoramic view of the coastline, ocean and, if lucky, a view of the islands of Maui and Moloka‘i in the distance. Neighboring, Sandy Beach (Wāwāmalu or ‘Ōku‘u) is for experienced swimmers or surfers and, for others, a sunning spot. In ancient Hawai‘i, when Paki was konohiki (headman, for the ahupua‘a), Hanuama was the realm of Chiefesses ‘Ihi‘ihilauākea and Kauanonoula. Hanauma (curved bay or hand wrestling bay; pronounced, ha-nau-ma) was a favorite recreation area for ali‘i (chiefs). The ali‘i amused themselves with fishing, hula, and games of uma (arm wrestling), and thus, comes the name, Hanauma Bay. Annually, Hanauma hosts about 3000 thousand tourists, in addition to residents and visitors who just drive-through the parking area above Hanauma. Hanauma boasts a bay, beach park, underwater park, and a marine life conservation district.

In 2001, the Lunalilo Home for elderly Hawaiians was relocated from Makiki, O‘ahu to a five- acre spot on the slopes of Koko Head. King Charles David Lunalilo ruled Hawai‘i’s Kingdom in 1857. Upon his death in 1874, his will and trust provided for establishing a home for elderly Hawaiians. In 1883, the Lunalilo Home opened on a 15-acre property owned by the King in Makiki, just makai of Roosevelt High School. After 45 years, the home in Makiki needed repair. A decision was made to move to the Koko Head location, thus, Lunalilo Home now sits on the western slopes of Koko Head. Since 2001, Lunalilo Home has been licensed to provide residential care for 42 elderly Native Hawaiians.