HONOLULU (KHON2) — We all make use of our island roadways — whether it be driving up the street or just walking down the sidewalk. But when was the last time you paid attention to the given street names? Did you know you could learn more about Hawaiʻi if you did? 

KHON2’s weekly  “Aloha Authentic” segment highlights various roadways across the islands so we can dig into those names, and in turn, learn something new. 

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On Dec. 1, we learned of a drastic change in Waikīkī’s history. In the ahupuaʻa of Waikīkī, which lies in the moku of Kona on Oʻahu, stands a roadway named after the waterway it parallels: Ala Wai Boulevard.

In ancient Hawaiʻi, Waikīkī was a marshland fueled by three main streams which flowed from the valleys above. The early Hawaiians who settled in the area turned much of the marshes into loʻi kalo — or taro patches.

When migrants from Asia arrived in the islands, Chinese farmers converted the patches into rice fields and duck ponds. But due to the lack of proper drainage over the years, stagnant waters created unsuitable and unhealthy conditions.

So, to resolve the issue, the Ala Wai Canal was constructed and completed in 1928. But by building the Ala Wai, the three streams were cut off from flowing through Waikīkī like it once did. 

The result: a change to the land and ocean.

One stream was named Piʻinaio and in history, it entered the ocean near where the ʻIlikai Hotel is currently. Another stream was named ʻĀpuakēhau — once reaching the shores where the Royal Hawaiian Center and Hotel now stands. 

The third stream was named Kuekaunahi, and it used to flow into the waters of what we know today as Kūhiō Groin.

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Did you know? Now you do!