The Naming of Waiaka`eu

In 2018, Leighton Hind, a Hoa ʻĀina and descendant of Kīholo’s ranchers and fishers, gifted the name Waiakaʻeu to one of Hui Aloha Kīholo’s restoration sites. This site was tangle of green amidst a dense kiawe forest. Intermixed with weedy grasses and shrubs grew native plants rarely seen in the area, such as makaloa, niu, pohuehue, and ilima, all fed by a wai ʻōpae, or anchialine pool.

Waiaka`eu native plants Hawaii Kiholo dryland forest.png

As Leighton worked with volunteers to clear out weeds, the native plants flourished! Unfortunately, wild goat herds were all too happy to eat the soft new greens. To keep the goats out, a fence was built around the restoration site, and it began to be referred to as “the Enclosure”.

“The Enclosure” didn’t quite sit right with those who spent time there. Leighton thought about vibrance of life returning in and around the wai ʻopae. He searched old maps and ask kūpuna if they knew of a name for this area. Nothing was found. Perhaps it was once named but the name was lost with time, and perhaps one day we will find that name again. Still, a name was needed. Life at the restoration site felt much more like an opening than a closing, or an “enclosure”. Leighton says he was reminded of his nephews name, Kaʻeuʻeu, meaning activity, or very lively, and found that a meaning of ʻeuʻeu is “full of life”. The name felt right to him, and he began discussions with others intimately familiar with Kīholo and this restoration project. It was decided that in addition to “ʻeuʻeu” it was fitting to incorporate its source, which is the wai.

Inclusion of wai in this names gives it a strong and fitting relationship in Kīholo because of the amazing amount of fresh water discharged by Puʻuwaʻawaʻa’s underground aquifers. Wai appears in many of this region’s names, such as Wainānāliʻi, Luahinewai, and Waiaʻelepī.

“I wanted to name it ‘the waters full of life’ because the waters are providing all of this life down here,” said Leighton.

Hence, we puka (emerge) through into life, Waiakaʻeu! Ola!

Mālama ʻĀina Highlights: To date, restoration work at Waiakaʻeu has cultivated the spread of precious makaloa to an area of 10,000 sq ft. (0.25 acres)! In addition, the endemic shrimp, ʻōpaeʻula, have returned to the pool, and all out planted native loulu and hala ula are thriving! There is also a beautiful pōhuehue patch measuring ~500 sq ft.