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Where You Live: Pawa'a

By Justin Fujioka
Published On: Oct 31 2013 07:35:55 PM HST
Updated On: Oct 31 2013 10:27:46 PM HST

How much do you know about where you live?

HONOLULU -

It's often called McCully, Moiliili or Makiki, but rarely by its historical name Pawa'a.

It's a name that's just as hidden from the thousands of people who pass through the area each day., even with those who live there.

Click here to watch Justin Fujioka's report.

"What would you call this neighborhood?" asked Justin Fujioka.  "Moiliili or McCully, I guess," said the Pawa'a resident.

"Makiki I guess.  I don't know," said one man.  Another man said, "I have no idea."

Maybe it's because the name Pawa'a is so hard to find nowadays.


You may see it on a few buildings, some fire department vehicles and a couple of street signs within the neighborhood's loose boundaries -- the H-1 Freeway, McCully Street, Kapiolani Boulevard and Ke'eaumoku Street.

"You lived here 24 years, but you never heard the word Pawa'a?" asked Fujioka.  "I have never heard that before," said the Pawa'a resident.

"Pawa'a is a canoe house, yeah?" said Kamanamaikalani Beamer of the University of Hawaii Kamakakuokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies.  "Or there was a canoe-building house that was in the area and that's what it was famed for and probably it was a strategic location in terms of how canoes could get up to that area from the sea.  So, there probably was, you know, waterways that enabled you to access it."

Today, the only waterway in Pawa'a is Makiki Stream next to what used to be Cinerama Theatre, which was originally named the Pawa'a Theatre when it was built in 1929.

Back then, much of Pawa'a was banana fields and rice paddies -- a Chinese-dominant area known as the "Pake Patch."

Meadow Gold Dairies was fairly new to the neighborhood, known at the time as The Honolulu Dairymen's Association.

The medical building Hale Pawa'a now sits at its original location at Beretania and Ke'eaumoku Streets.

Just makai, between Young and King Streets, was one of the few things that still exists today -- the Department of Agriculture.

Pawa'a In-Ha Park used to be an open lot and home to the Honolulu Police Department.  It's virtually in the center of the Pawa'a neighborhood.

HPD moved into the area in 1961, replacing Sears in a building often referred to as the Pawa'a Annex.

It was demolished in 1995 and replaced by condominiums, taking one of the last prominent references of Pawa'a with it.

"I haven't heard of it called that in a long time," said one woman.  "When I was a kid, everything was Pawa'a.  But not now, for some reason.  I grew up near here."

Why do you think no one calls it Pawa'a anymore?" asked Fujioka.  "I have no idea.  Maybe they all moved away," said the woman laughing.

Whatever the reason, one thing's for sure.  Pawa'a's current residents are certainly keeping this neighborhood alive, whatever you call it.

"I always thought I was in Makiki, but I just found out I was in Pawa'a," said the Pawa'a resident.

"What would you call this neighborhood," asked Fujioka.  "Home," said the woman.

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