In Hawaiian culture names have deep meaning. They denote status, times of year, important historical events and even what a place or thing was used for. The name that will be given to Fissure 8 is one that will last many lifetimes.
The State said they are looking to the community for input to make sure they get it right.
Kumu Hula Micah Kamohoali’i, born and raised on Hawaii island said it’s vital that officials do their due diligence in vetting all the suggestions.
“It’s so important that we give them, we give our landscape, the right names that tell the right stories so that a hundred generations or even a hundred years from now they remember exactly what had happened just by reading the name,” Kamohoali’i said.
Fissure 8 erupted last summer, mesmerizing everyone with its blazing red fountains, shooting molten rock and lava hundreds of feet into the sky during the historic eruption.
The Hawaii Board on Geographic Names is tasked with naming it. Faced with the daunting challenge, officials are seeking input.
“Basically, we look at the community to tell us. So the community, whoever the proposer is, should be talking with kupuna, should be talking with people that have some ties to the immediate area,” explained Leo Asuncion, the Hawaii Office of Planning Director.
So far the board has received three suggestions for names:
Pu’u Leilani, which means the hill of Leilani.
Pu’u ‘O ‘aila’au, which means the hill of Aila’au. Aila au was a god known as the forest eater who battled Pele for control of Kilauea.
Keahiluawalu O Pele, which is the 8th pit of fire of Pele.
Anyone can make a suggestion and they are still taking submissions.
More information about the submission process can be found at http://planning.hawaii.gov. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
“The board was created by law back in 1974. The primary people are the chair persons of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Hawaiian Home Lands and the chair person of Office of Hawaiian Affairs. We also have the state land surveyor, the University of Hawaii, and my office, the Office of Planning, and the director of the Bishop Museum,” explained Asuncion.
Extensive research will be done before a decision is made.
“We take a look at old maps right, before the lava flows were there. The state land surveyor is there so any maps he may have from long ago. Bishop museum, OHA and DHHL, they all have these older maps…one thing we don’t do is we don’t try to make anything up either,” Asuncion said.
The board plans to take the list of names to Hawaii island residents between April and June for discussion. Asuncion said the hope is that Fissure 8 will have a name by the end of next summer.
Hawaii county officials said Fissure 8 is still unaccessible and unsafe. There are currently no plans to open it to the public for viewing.