New Signs to Show Original Place Names of Central Maui

March 3, 2020, 10:57 AM HST · Updated March 4, 7:15 AM
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Roadways throughout Central Maui will soon be decorated with new signs–each one telling a piece of the area’s history.

“A lot of local people are embracing this project because they donʻt even know and they wanna know more,” said Vernon Kalanikau, the graphic designer of the Moku ‘o Wailuku Ahupua’a sign project.

Kalanikau says the project aims to inform residents and visitors about the Hawaiian land division system with signs that display the original Hawaiian names of the area.

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The signs delineate one of the islandʻs 12 moku, or districts, called Pūʻali Komohana, also known as Wailuku.

The district was originally divided into 4 ahupuaʻa–narrow, wedge-shaped sections that spanned from mountain to sea. Historically, the size of each ahupuaʻa depended on the resources found in the area.

Kalanikau added that the signs were designed “based on conversations with people of the area that may have manaʻo to that area or moku.”

The $25,000 project, funded by the county office of economic development, will include signs in Kahului, Wailuku, Waikapū, Wai’ehu, Waiheʻe, Spreckelsville, and parts of the Maui Veterans Highway–marking the perimeter of each ahupuaʻa.

Kalanikau says the Moku ‘o Wailuku signs follow a template for other signs he designed for Kula Kai, or South Maui.

Those signs were installed in 2018–each one shows images of the resources that once flourished in the area.

Maui County Councilmember Kelly King, who represents the South Maui residency area, said the Kula Kai signs “gives us that cultural identity that there is more than just beaches and strip malls.”

Wailuku resident Yolanda Solorio believes the signs will help her and other non-Hawaiian locals learn more about the island’s history.

“I think itʻs important that if you live on this island you learn about the Hawaiian culture, you learn about the Hawaiian people, you learn about what gives this island itʻs aloha,” Solorio said.

Project leaders plan to install the Moku ʻo Wailuku signs in June.

Kalanikauʻs goal is to eventually place signs in all 12 Maui moku.

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