ʻohe: n. bamboo; a native kalo variety
Covering thousands of acres from Hāmākua's rugged shoreline, over Mauna a Wākea, and up to the summit of Maunaloa, Kaʻohe is the largest ahupuaʻa in all of Hawaiʻi. The place name, Kaʻohe, can be translated as "the bamboo," ʻohe being the ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi term for bamboo. One interpretation of this place name links the function of the ʻohe as a water container, or ʻohe wai, to the water held within this ʻāina in the center of the island of Hawaiʻi. Considering the location of Kaʻohe, encompassing the central saddle between Maunakea and Maunaloa, as well as the summit regions of both mountains, it makes sense that our kūpuna would have understood the significant role this ʻāina serves as a water container, like the ʻohe, holding much of the source waters of the island's aquifer. Today, most people experience Kaʻohe while driving over the Saddle Road, through the area known as Pōhakuloa, which is currently occupied by the US military. Our moʻolelo tell us that the waters of Pōhakuloa, beneath the plains of Kaʻohe, are linked to the sacred waters of Waiau, near the summit of Maunakea.
To learn more, check out our Moʻolelo, Mele & ʻŌlelo Noʻeau, Maps, and Wahi Pana pages below!