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’s history if you did?

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

This week, we bring attention to a symbol of Hawaiian music.

In the ahupuaʻa of Maunalua, which lies in the moku of Kona here on Oʻahu, stands a short roadway that carries the Hawaiian word for any string instrument.

We are talking about Pila Place.

Musical instruments have become a prominent part of Hawaiian music and dance throughout Hawaii’s history.

But by far, the most iconic instrument synonymous with Hawaiʻi is the ʻukulele.

Interestingly enough, however, as much as the ʻukulele is considered a Hawaiian instrument, its roots travel 12,000 miles across the ocean to Madeira, Portugal.  

In the 1880s, the sugar plantation industry was booming, and more labor was in need.

So, immigrants from across the globe were hired and brought to Hawaiʻi to work the fields, including 25,000 Madeirans.

With these immigrants came the Portuguese stringed instrument known as the Machete, or Machete de Braga.

Once Hawaiians became aware of it and its joyous sound, they adopted it to create their own rendition.  

The result is what became known as the ʻukulele, differing from the machete mainly by its tuning and its sound.

The word ʻukulele means “jumping flea.”  

To many, it speaks to one’s fingers while playing the ukulele which could resemble a jumping flea.

To learn more, be sure to watch the latest Aloha Authentic episode speaking to the history of ‘ukulele by clicking here.

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Did you know?  Now you do!