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Kamehameha Schools Maui haumāna helped bless a new ahupaʻa sign that identifies the traditional name of the land where the school resides. For years KS Maui has worked to help revive the use of ʻAʻapueo as the place name of our community.

Reviving Hawaiian place names one sign at a time

Oct. 25, 2022

With traffic crawling past along Kula Highway, four Kamehameha Schools Maui haumāna helped unwrap a shiny new street sign emblazoned with the traditional ahupuaʻa name where the school resides: ʻAʻapueo. 

“Our ʻohana — and everyone who calls Maui home, really — will now know the true name of this place when they drive past,” said Kamana Kimokeo, a senior at KS Maui. 

While our community is known today as Pukalani, the bright teal sign, located just before the right turn onto ʻAʻapueo Parkway, identifies the area as ʻAʻapueo Ahupaʻa. It’s part of a larger effort by the Maui Nui Ahupua‘a Signage Project to breathe new life into the traditional place names that fell out of favor in modern times. More than 30 such signs are planned across Maui.

“Names, as Native Hawaiians, are a direct link to our kūpuna and contain within them the rich history of our pae ʻāīna,” said Vernon Kalanikau, project coordinator for Maui Nui Ahupua‘a Signage Project, during the sign blessing and installation.

For years KS Maui has worked to help revive the use of ʻAʻapueo as the place name of our community, whether through the common usage of the name when we talk about our campus or by sharing the moʻolelo of the ahupuaʻa with haumāna and ʻohana.

“Sense of place, particularly ʻAʻapueo, is tied into everything we do as a campus,” said Hōkūao Pellegrino, ʻāina and sustainability coordinator for KS Maui. “Queen Liliʻuokalani’s mother Analea Keohokālole received the majority of the ahupuaʻa of ʻAʻapueo at the time of the Māhele of 1848. It’s fitting for KS to hold these lands today given that Liliʻu was the hānai sister of our founder Pauahi.”

ʻAʻapueo, according to moʻolelo, received its name after a legendary mother owl who waged war against the people of Maui after the cruel destruction of her eggs. In addition to its association with the fabled owl, the ahupaʻa is also said to be connected to ʻuala, the favored crop of Chief Kihapiʻilani whose plantation sat on these lands. Both the owl and ʻuala are pictured on the new place name sign.

KS Maui incorporates these important place symbols into our campus, too. ʻUala is featured as part of the māla on our campus, and the pueo is prominent in our KS Maui branding. Even the entrance gate to campus, designed by alum Pololū Nākānelua, KSM’13, was inspired by the ʻAʻapueo moʻolelo.

Not only that, haumāna learn and frequently chant the oli Ke Ahupuaʻa ʻo ʻAʻapueo by Pueo Pata, just as the four haumāna did during the unveiling of the ʻAʻapueo street sign. The oli recounts all the traditional associations to this place, including the moʻolelo of the pueo.

Senior Faith Paredes said each time she recites the oli, she feels just a bit more connected to ʻAʻapueo. “It’s like I’m doing my part to keep the story of this land alive,” she said.


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