HONOLULU (KHON2) — Names are very important in Hawaii as they tell a story.
So what name would be fitting for the destructive Fissure 8 that would go on to make history?
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Ahuʻailāʻau is the new Hawaiian name for the infamous vent of Kīlauea Volcano’s 2018 eruption that literally changed the geography of Hawaii Island.
The word Ahu refers to a mound or shrine, and ʻAilāʻau is the name of an old fire deity, one who precedes the more familiar Pele.
“ʻAi means “to eat”, and Lāʻau can also mean “to heal or medicine,” says Marques Hanalei Marzan, Chairman of the Hawaii Board on Geographic Names. “So, the idea of Ahuʻailāʻau referring to this ancestorial guardian and deity for Puna, but also this idea it can be a healing element for the community.”
The healing continues till this day.
The 200-foot-tall fountain destroyed homes and businesses and caused nearly $800 million in property damage.
The Hawaii Board on Geographic Names was responsible for designating the official name for Fissure 8 and sought input from the community.
“We went to the community to really engage with them to see how we can make this a meaningful process for the community and really get the input from the community in how we proceed in this naming,” says Marzan.
A total of 18 Hawaiian names were submitted by the Puna community, and even though only one was chosen, any name would have been an important one.
“Many of the features in Hawaii have names because they are ways to remember stories, remember traditions, remember practices associated with different places,” says Marzan.
“And this is just another way of continuing that legacy.”
The Hawaii Board of Geographic Names was hoping to decide on a name in May of last year, but due to the pandemic, it forced a delay in the official announcement until now.