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Hawaiian Culture

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Recognizing Hawaii’s Ahupuaa

Last month, representatives of the Hawaiian civic clubs, neighborhood boards, community organizations, state and county transportation departments and Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners gathered in Punaluu on Oahu’s North Shore to dedicate the first modern-day ahupuaa boundary marker for the moku (district) of Koolauloa.

Coordinated by the Oahu Council of the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs and supported by the HTA, the ahupuaa boundary markers are part of a project initiated by the civic clubs to increase awareness and reconnect communities with the original place names of the island’s ahupuaa.

Running from the mountain to ocean, ahupuaa are land divisions of each island, often delineated by ridgelines or streams. According to historians, the concept of the ahupuaa was introduced by Hawaiian Chief Mailekukahi of Oahu to teach resource management and sustainability especially during times of drought and hardship.

“Recognizing and restoring the place names of our ahupuaa allows us an opportunity to reflect upon and perpetuate the traditional Hawaiian practices of sustainability and stewardship of the land,” said Mike McCartney, HTA president and CEO. “This is an important part of Hawaii’s history and culture, which differentiates us from anywhere else in the world.”

The HTA is supporting the ahupuaa boundary markers on Oahu through its County Product Enrichment Program and on Kauai through its Kukulu Ola: Living Hawaiian Culture Program. For more information on these initiatives, visit the HTA website.


DIACRITICALS recognizes the use of diacritical markings of the (modern) Hawaiian language including the `okina [`] or glottal stop and the kahakō [ō] or macron (e.g., in place names of Hawai`i such as Lāna'i). However, you may notice these diacritical markings have been omitted throughout the website to ensure the best online experience for our visitors. recognizes the importance of using these markings to preserve the language and culture of Hawaii and respectfully uses them in all communications beyond the online platform.

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