WAIʻALEʻALE

WAIʻALEʻALE

rippling water, overflowing water

At an elevation of 5,148 ft, Waiʻaleʻale is the second highest point and the piko, or center, of the island of Kauaʻi. It is also the name of the mountain range upon which this peak is located. Waiʻaleʻale is also one of the wettest spots on earth, averaging over 400 inches of rain per year. The waters from Waiʻaleʻale flow down to form the four major rivers on Kauaʻi, Waimea, Makaweli, Hanapēpē, and Wailua, which then branch off to form numerous streams and waterfalls. These waterways flow into ahupuaʻa all around the island, providing wai to give and sustain life. It nourishes the island’s communities, then flows into the sea, eventually returning as rain to nourish the next generation. Waiʻaleʻale is the source.

Wai is essential for all living things, and highly valued by ancient Hawaiians. Wai along with ʻāina was seen as a gift from the gods, to be respected and cared for responsibly. It was needed to grow kalo and other crops, for medicine and healing practices, and even ceremonial or religious practices. Wai was the only resource in an ahupuaʻa that ancient Hawaiians could not use freely. The aliʻi would appoint a konohiki to each ahupuaʻa who was then responsible for overseeing water usage. It's no coincidence that the Hawaiian word, for valuable, wealth, and importance is waiwai. 

The constant and steady flow of rivers and streams from the land to the ocean is vital for freshwater and marine organisms. Native organisms such a ʻoʻopu and ʻōpae spend part of their lives in the sea, then return to freshwater streams when they mature. The flow of nutrients from rivers and streams out to the ocean also nourishes marine algae and fish. This is why so many of these stream-nourished coastal areas were so prized and heavily cultivated by ancient Hawaiians. They took advantage of these special places to harvest crops and build fishponds to provide for their ʻohana.

Today, this vital land-sea connection has been disrupted due to the shift from the traditional Hawaiian way of life to a highly westernized existence. Also the ever  growing human population, development, feral animals, and many other reasons combined. Water has since been diverted from many important waterways across the state to satisfy residential and commercial needs. However, unlike the traditional Hawaiian irrigation system, modern diversion of water doesn't return the water back to the waterways from which it came. This means dried up springs and streams which in turn lead to the loss of native species that require these waters in order to survive. Native stream and marine life ecosystems suffer when streamflow diminishes or is polluted and contaminated by feral animals, humans, toxins, chemicals, waste, etc. This kills the algae and smothers reefs.

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Ahupuaʻa: land division usually extending from the uplands to the sea, so called because the boundary was marked by a heap (ahu) of stones surmounted by an image of a pig (puaʻa), or because a pig or other tribute was laid on the altar as tax to the chief
Aliʻi: chief, chiefess
Kaʻawakō: the kava drawn along, a small heiau located just northeast of the summit of Waiʻaleʻale
Kaipuhaʻa: the low gourd, known today as the area of Wailua Homesteads/Wailua Uka
Kawaikini: the multitudinous water, the numerous waters
Konohiki: headman of an ahupuaʻa land division under the chief

Kūnihi Ka Mauna: learn more about this oli kāhea here
ʻOhana: family
ʻOʻopu: indigenous species of gobies
ʻŌpae: indigenous species of brackish water shrimp
Wai: water

Waialeʻale: rippling water, overflowing water

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Elbert, Samuel H., and Mary Kawena Pūkui. Hawaiian Dictionary: Hawaiian-English ; English-Hawaiian. Univ. of Hawaii Press, 1999.

He Moʻolelo No Hiiakaikapoliopele. Ka Hoku o ka Pakipika, Volume I, Number 22. February 20, 1862.

Joesting, Edward. Kauai: the Separate Kingdom. University of Hawaii Press, 1990.

Kawaikini. Digital Image. https://i.pinimg.com/564x/b8/6c/e9/b86ce9a29a1517b25055cbfa988bb93a.jpg

Map of Waiʻaleʻale. Digital Image. http://www.islandbreath.org/hawaiinei/M7Kauai/M7KauaiRasterFile.png

“MT WAIALEALE 1047, HAWAII.” MT WAIALEALE 1047, HAWAII - Climate Summary, Western Regional Climate Center, 2008, wrcc.dri.edu/cgi-bin/cliMAIN.pl?hi6565.

Pukuʻi, Mary Kawena. ʻŌlelo Noʻeau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings. Bishop Museum Press, 1983. #2705, #2888, #2482, #2178.

Soehren, Lloyd J. “Hawaiian Place Names.” ULUKAU: The Hawaiian Electronic Library, 2002, ulukau.org/cgi-bin/hpn?l=en.

Summit of Waiʻaleʻale. Digital Image. https://cdn6.dissolve.com/p/D1234_10_428/D1234_10_428_1200.jpg

Waiʻaleʻale. Digital Image. https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60616-d2474880-Reviews-Kuilau_Ridge_Trail-Kapaa_Kauai_Hawaii.html#photos;aggregationId=101&albumid=101&filter=7&ff=298505196

Wailua River From Above. Digital Image. https://thebest5years.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/img6-8929.jpg?w=683