Renaming the Hawaiian Homestead Community in the Waikapū Ahupuaʻa to Puʻuhona HHA

October 16, 2023

Prepared by Rebecca Kapolei Kiili with source information curated by Hōkūao Pellegrino

Prepared by Rebecca Kapolei Kiili with source information curated by Hōkūao Pellegrino

Background and Context

When the Dowling Company acquired the Puʻunani Hawaiian Homestead development project, the name Puʻunani was given to the project by the previous landowner and developer. Upon receiving the project, the Dowling Company in consultation with the Department of Hawaiian Homelands (DHHL) decided to keep the project name of Puʻunani to maintain continuity for the purpose of the project development process. It was always the intention of DHHL and the Dowling Company to change the name for this Hawaiian Homestead community in time.

The historical place names, information, maps, and pictures are all sourced from the Ipu Kukui Workbook, created by Hōkūao Pellegrino in 2010 for the Kamehameha Schools Maui Hawaiian Enrichment Education Programs.

Nā Puʻu Nani: The Beautiful Hills of Waikapū

Puʻuhona is the first of four puʻu or hills that travel up to Waikapū’s highest peak of Hanaʻula. It stands at an elevation of 905 feet. This puʻu was probably named for the native tree called hona which is also referred to as hōpue and ōpuhe. (ōpue The hona tree is a close relative of the olonā. The fibers of the inner bark of both of these plants were used to make rope and cordage for fishnets. The olonā was known to be used for making nets (kōkō) to carry containers, and as a base for ti-leaf raincoats and feather capes. (ā)

The Hawaiian Homestead Association and community members who have been meeting regularly since November 2021 have agreed on the name Puʻuhona for this Hawaiian homestead community. The name honors one of the four puʻu in the Waikapū ahupuʻa. We believe that honoring this native tree species is also a way to teach more about the flora and fauna that may have been traditionally found in Waikapū, although we are not as familiar with it today.

Drawing inspiration from this native tree species and its uses for creating rope and cordage, we believe that each person and each ʻohana will bring their strengths to the community. When we weave and combine our individual strands together, we strengthen our community together with the intention of creating a pono and prosperous community. This metaphor can be incorporated into the vision, mission, and value statements for the Hawaiian Homestead Community Association. The native hona tree can also serve as a logo for this association and be a focal point of education for the community. There are many layers of kaona that present itself in the use of Puʻuhona for this new community.

The puʻu is the lowest of the four within this ahupuaʻa and is the puʻu that is the boundary line for the Waikapū ahupuaʻa meaning that it defines Waikapūʻs boundaries, unlike Hanaʻula, the highest peak whose boundaries extend through to Ukumehame. (Hōkūao Pellegrino) The place name of Puʻuhona honors the Waikapū ahupuaʻa and is a beacon of hope for the future homesteaders of this community.


2. A native tree, endemic to Kauaʻi (Urera sandvicensis var. kauaiensis), in the nettle family, with broad-ovate, long-stemmed leaves, and red, clustered, male flowers. Also hona, ōpuhe.

Urera Sandvicensis
Picture sourced from : Alamy: Urera Sandvicensis

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