Sense of Place – Waialua. 1/ 6

After trading city life for seven acres of red, volcanic-soiled-agricultural land, my family and social enterprise is embarking on new territory and gaining a new sense of place in Waialua.

This new territory, in the ahupua’a of Waialua, is not only incubating my social enterprise that is Voyaging Foods, but teaching myself and my family all about the pride of place and those that came before.

Studying the self-sustaining strategies of the past, how to harness the best use of resources for nutritious food and healthy soil is to take the best of the past and integrate it with the best practices of today. These strategies are what permaculture teaches.

Every Wednesday:

New posts, labeled 1/6, etc. will be dedicated to the awareness of these natural resources that my Permaculture Design Certificate course opened my eyes to and what I learned from this experience. My goal is to help transform the agricultural estate that we now live on to become an organic homestead farm, wellness site and company flagship location, all with principals in permaculture and Vedic natural laws.

Permaculture is strongly based on PLACE and RELATIONSHIPS.

This course was one of the most important classes I have ever taken and I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in viewing the world with productive eyes.

My lead instructors were Matt Lynch and Hunter Heaivilin through the Asia-Pacifc Center for Regenerative Design, (@APCRDity   Facebook) whom held outdoor “classrooms” taught in a different moku (i.e., section of the island) in order to experience the different environments of the island, and gain practical understanding of how permaculture design principles can be adapted & applied to different contexts.

I was fortunate to meet some of the leaders & innovators in the local agriculture & food movements, and immerse myself into an experiential learning process.

These two-day per month sessions was a mix of classroom, group work, site visits, hands-on practicums, and real-life design exercises.

The first class homework was to learn more about the place we live in. Here is what I learned about the moku of Waialua.


Consult the Genius of the Place in all  That tells the waters or to rise or fall  Or helps the ambitious hill the heavens to scale  or scoops in circling theaters the vale  calls in the country, catches opening glades  joins willing woods and varies shades from shades  now breaks or now directs the intending lines  paints as you plant, and, as you work, designs.   – ­Alexander Pope


KAWAIHAPAI, was a mystical AHUPUA’A, or subdistrict in Waialua, O’ahu, that gave Hawaiians a special feeling for their ‘aina (land) that connects them to the near and distant past. -(Roy Kakulu Alameida)


Place names describe not only the beauty of the land but also the importance and use of the named places. These names often make a direct connection to the present and past “Hawaiians used songs or chants to describe various elements of a place—its winds, plants, sea colors and so on. . . as well as its customs, history, legends and religious spirit.”

Kawaihapai means “carried or lifted water” and is said to have been carried here by a cloud in answer to the prayers of two priests. (ULUKAU: THE HAWAIIAN ELECTRONIC LIBRARY )

Mary Kawena Pukui, Hawaiian cultural expert said:

A drought once came there in ancient times and drove out everyone

except two aged priests. Instead of going with the others, they

remained to plead with their gods for relief. One day they saw a cloud

approaching from the ocean. It passed over the house to the cliff

behind. They heard a splash and when they ran to look, they found


Because it was brought there by a cloud in answer to their prayers,

the place was named Kawaihapai (the carried water) and the water

supply was named Kawaikumu’ole (water without source).2

The Hawaiian Journal of History, vol. 30 (1996)


Kawaihapai was known for its large lo’i (irrigated terraces) and sweet potato fields as well as excellent fishing grounds. Small terraces, or mo’o ‘aina, also referred to as mo’o, were usually planted with wet-land taro and often extended along streams and ditches. Source: The moku, or districts, of O’ahu (Patrick V. Kirch and Marshall Sahlins,Anahulu: The Anthropology of History in the Kingdom of Hawaii, vol. 1 [U of Chicago P, 1992]


The naming of Waialua has several derivations. In one tradition, Waialua was named for Waia, son of Haloa and Hinamauoulu’ai and grandson of Wakea. (Samuel Manaiakalani Kamakau, Tales and Traditions of the People of Old (Honolulu: Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum P, 1991)

Other sources refer to lua as meaning the two rivers, Kaukonahua and Poamoho, that flow into Kaiaka Bay. Waialua was named after the lo’i (irrigated terrace) near Kaukonahua Stream and
close to the former Halstead residence and sugar mill. (Paul T. Yardley, Millstones and Milestones: The Career of B. F. Dillingham (Honolulu: UP of Hawaii, 1981) 193.

Tell me about you:

Connect in the comments below or on Voyaging Foods Facebook:

What is the history of where you live?

What is the meaning behind the name of the street or town that you live in?

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