HONOLULU (KHON2) – We all make use of our island roadways, but when was the last time you paid attention to their given names?  

Did you know you could learn more about Hawaiʻi if you did?

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Our weekly Aloha Authentic segment highlights various streets across the islands so we can dig into those names, and in turn, learn something new.  

This week, Aloha Authentic took a step back into old Hawaiʻi.

In the ahupuaʻa of Waikīkī, which lies in the moku of Kona here on Oʻahu, stands a street that’s named after a place of refuge, Puʻuhonua Street.

In ancient Hawaiʻi, rules and regulations were established by ruling chiefs declaring what was forbidden and what was allowed.

When people broke sacred laws and disregarded the kapu, or taboos, the punishment was often death. 

But there were ways to find protection and a road to recovery for criminals like going to a puʻuhonua.

The word puʻu means “hill” and honua refers to “planet earth”. 

But when put together, puʻuhonua translates as “a place of refuge.” It served as a sanctuary where kapu-breakers were safe from harm.

The pu’uhonua also provided the assistance to build one’s understanding and perception of their value within the community. 

However, it wasn’t necessarily an easy journey to make it to safety, sometimes, individuals faced danger.

But if they reached the site, serving as a rehabilitation center, a puʻuhonua wasn’t meant to be a permanent space.

After kahuna, or “experts”, provided their wisdom and knowledge to the individual, the goal of the puʻuhonua was to reintroduce them back into society with a sense of kuleana or responsibility, and the role they serve.

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Did you know?  Now you do!