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?

Check out more news from around Hawaii

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

This week, we bring attention to a traditional staple of the islands.

In the ahupuaʻa of Waiākea, which lies in the moku of Hilo on the island of Hawaiʻi, stands a street that carries the name of taro. 

We are talking about Kalo Street.

As long ago as 450 A.D., the first Hawaiian ancestors migrated to the Hawaiian islands bringing with them plants in their canoes.

Known as a canoe plant, one of those was the kalo

Despite that it can be found throughout the South Pacific, Hawaiians were the only Pacific Islanders known to produce poi by pounding the plant’s corm with a stone and board.

Becoming a staple within the family, kalo is associated with the Hawaiian god Kāne, the provider of sunlight, fresh water, and life.

Hawaiian stories share the relationship between kalo and man. 

Two gods had a child together who unfortunately was stillborn.

So, they buried him and from that grave grew the first kalo plant. 

The two deities had another child and named him Hāloa, meaning “long breath.”

He became the ancestor of the Hawaiian people while kalo became his older brother. 

These are some reasons why kalo is considered sacred.

By learning some terms used to describe the plant, it can be seen how kalo has influenced the Hawaiian family structure.

Makua is the Hawaiian word for parent.  It’s also the term referencing the parent kalo plant.

From the makua grows the ʻohā, or its offspring and keiki.

With the makua and ʻohā together, that unit is called ʻohana, which is the Hawaiian word for family.

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Did you know?  Now you do!