Hawaiian words to give direction

Aloha Authentic

HONOLULU (KHON2) — KHON2’s weekly “Aloha Authentic” segment highlights various streets across the pae aina so the meaning of their names can be uncovered, and in turn, information is gathered about Hawaii and its native culture.  

[Hawaii news on the go–LISTEN to KHON 2GO weekday mornings at 7:30 a.m.]

Aloha Authentic turns its attention to directions this week.

In the ahupuaa of Waianae, which lies in the moku with the same name of Waianae, stands a roadway that that helps everyone learn Hawaiian navigation.  That roadway is Ala Hema Street.

Ala Hema translates to “South Road.”  
“Ala” meaning “road or trail” and “hema” meaning “south”.   

So, what about the other directions?

If an individual left Honolulu and headed towards the Pali Highway, they would start by heading north — which is “akau.”

It is toward the east where the sun first “arrives,” or “hiki” in Hawaiian. Therefore, “east” is translated as “hikina.”

The opposite takes place on the west.  The sun “enters” or “komo” into the ocean there, “komohana” refers to “west.”

Some Hawaiian words have multiple meanings. If a motorist were to turn “left,” for example, they would be turning “hema” as well. The word to turn “right” is “akau,” the same word for north.

A motorist would say “ma uka” or “towards the mountain” while driving up the road, and “ma kai” or “towards the sea” while heading down the road.

Did you know? Now you do!

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