Place Names of Hawaii Island

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Basic Information about Places in Hawaiʻi

The following resources may be useful to find information on a specific place name in Hawaiʻi. Consider looking for both the traditional Hawaiian name and contemporary name of a place in order to find more information.

If you cannot find information on a specific place, consider broadening your research to the ahupuaʻa (traditional land division) that the place is found in.

Place Names of Hawaii by Mary Kawena Pukui; Samuel H. Elbert; Esther T. Mookini Call Number: DU622 .P79 1976 Publication Date: 1976 Available in print and online

Hawaiʻi Place Names: Shores, Beaches, and Surf Sites by John R. K. Clark Call Number: DU622 .C546 2002 Publication Date: 2001 Available in print and online

Beaches of the Big Island by John R. Clark Call Number: DU628.H28 C53 1985 Publication Date: 1985

ONLINE: A Catalog of Hawaiʻi Place Names: Compiled from the Records of the Boundary Commission and the Board of Commissioners to Quiet Land Titles of the Kingdom of Hawaii by Lloyd Soehren

ONLINE: Papakilo Database by The Office of Hawaiian Affairs

Hawaiian Dictionary

Hawaiian Dictionary by Mary Kawena Pukui; Samuel H. Elbert

Call Number: PL6446 .P795 1991
Publication Date: 1991
Available in print and online

Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings

ʻŌlelo Noʻeau can be used to learn more about places in Hawaiʻi (i.e. cultural significance, history, associated people, events, stories, etc.).

Use the index (back of the book) to look up your place name.

ʻŌlelo Noʻeau by Mary Kawena Pukui Call Number: PN6519.H4 P84 1983

Publication Date: 1983

Rains and Winds of Hawaiʻi

Hānau Ka Ua: Hawaiian Rain Names by Collette Leimomi Akana
Call Number: PS571.H3 H36 .A33 2015
Publication Date: 2015

Ka Makani: Mai Ka Puke Wehewehe ʻŌlelo ʻO Hawaiian Dictionary by Samuel Elbert and Mary Kawena Pukui
Call Number: PL6449 .M34
Publication Date: 1980

Ka Ua: Mai Ka Puke Wehewehe ʻŌlelo ʻO Hawaiian Dictionary by Samuel Elbert and Mary Kawena Pukui
Call Number: PL6449 .U3
Publication Date: 1980

Treasury of Hawaiian Words in One Hundred and One Categories by Harold W. Kent
Call Number: PL6446 .K46 1993
Publication Date: 1983

"Winds and Rains of Hawaiʻi" in The Wind Gourd of Laʻamaomao by Esther T. Mookini (Translator); Sarah Nakoa (Translator)
Call Number: PL6448.9 .N34413 1990
Publication Date: 1990

“Legend of Kuapakaʻa” in Fornander Collection of Hawaiian Antiquities and Folk-lore Vol.5, No.1, pp.92-103 by Abraham Fornander; with translations revised and illustrated with notes by Thomas G. Thrum.
Call Number: GN670 .B45
Publication Date: 1916-1917
Available in print and online

Find a Hawaiian Myth, Legend, or Story Associated with a Place Name

The Hawaiian Legends Index allows users to search for a place name and see what traditional Hawaiian stories the place name appears in.

Look for books about Hawaii (mythology, social customs, history) and use the index (the back of the book) to see if and/or where your place name appears in the book. *Remember: Some books may refer to the place using the Hawaiian name, whereas other books may use the contemporary name.

Finding Resources

You can use LibCat to find print books, e-books, journal articles, and other resources in the Library.

Tips for searching:

  • Use keyword(s) in the search box to find related items.
  • Use the 'Browse by' option to search by author, title, or subject.
  • Use the Advanced Search option to search by keyword(s), title, author, or subject.
  • Use quotation marks around phrases to focus search (e.g., "South Point," "Waipio Valley," "Waiakea Uka", etc.).
  • Use the truncation symbol (*) to search for variations of a word. For example: hawaii* will find hawaii, hawaiian, hawaiians, and hawaiiana.
  • Once you have found a relevant item in the library catalog, click on the related subject headings in the item record to find more materials associated with the same subject.

In the results list, pay attention to:

  • Location: tells you which library collection contains the item (General Collection, Hawaiian Collection)
  • Status: tells you if the item is available (Checked-in or Checked out).
  • Call Number: tells you the precise "address" of the book within the collection.

Samples of Books in Print

Ancient Sites of Hawaiʻi: A Guide to Archaeological and Cultural Places on the Big Island by Van James
Call Number: DU624.H32 J36 2014
Publication Date: 2014

Legacy of the Landscape by Patrick V. Kirch; Therese Babineau (Photographer)
Call Number: GN875.H3 K55 1996
Publication Date: 1996

Heiau of the Island of Hawaiʻi by John F. Stokes; Tom Dye (Annotations by, Introduction by)
Call Number: GN4 .B57 no.2
Publication Date: 1991

Ruling Chiefs of Hawaii by Samuel M. Kamakau; Lilikala Kameʻeleihiwa (Introduction by); Mary
Kawena Pukui (Translator)
Call Number: DU625 .K3 1992
Publication Date: 1992
Available in print and online

Hawaiian Mythology by Martha W. Beckwith; Katharine Luomala (Introduction by)
Call Number: BL2620.H3 B4 1970
Publication Date: 1970
Available in print and online

Exalted Sits the Chief: The Ancient History of Hawaiʻi Island by Ross Cordy
Call Number: DU628.H28 C67 2000
Publication Date: 2000

Nā Kuaʻāina: Living Hawaiian Culture by Davianna Pomaikaʻi McGregor
Call Number: DU624.65 .M39 2007
Publication Date: 2006

Hawaiian Surfing: Traditions from the Past by John R. K. Clark
Call Number: GV839.65.H3 C53 2011
Publication Date: 2011
Available in print and online

Native Planters of Old Hawaiʻi: Their Life, Lore, and Environment by E. S. Handy; E. G. Handy; Mary Kawena Pukui
Call Number: AM101 .B442 no.233 1991
Publication Date: 1991

Atlas of Hawaiian Watersheds & Their Aquatic Resources: Island of Hawaiʻi by James E. Parham, G.R. Higashi, E.K. Lapp, D.G.K. Kuamoʻo, R.T. Nishimoto, S. Hau, J.M. Fitzsimons, D.A. Polhemus, & W.S. Devick
Call Number: QH198.H3 A85 2008
Publication Date: 2008

Use and Control of Hawaiian Inter-island Channels, Polynesian Hawaiʻi: A.D. 1400-1794 by Robert J. Hommon
Call Number: DU626 .H66 1975a
Publication Date: 1975

Thrum's Hawaiian Annual by Thomas George Thrum
Call Number: DU621 .H3
Available in print and online

Riddle of the Relic by Kent Warshauer
Call Number: DU628.H28 W37 2007
Publication Date: 2007

Maps of Hawaiʻi

Map of Hawaiʻi Island, 1901. HGS Map #2124.

eVols Hawaii Maps

Other Online Resources

Ahupuaʻa System Research

To find materials related to a specific ahupuaʻa system, try doing a Keyword search in LibCat using the format:

  • [Place Name] Ahupuaa
  • [Place Name] Antiquities
  • [Place Name] Archaeolog?

See samples of materials below.

Life in Early Hawaiʻi: The Ahupuaʻa by Hawaiian Studies Institute Staff
Call Number: DU624.5 .A382 1994
Publication Date: 1994
Available in print and online

Resource Units in Hawaiian Culture by Donald D. Mitchell; Nancy Middlesworth (Illustrator)
Call Number: DU625.8 .M58 1992
Publication Date: 1992
Available in print and online

A History of Hawaiʻi, Student Book by Linda Menton; Eileen Tamura
Call Number: DU625 .M37 1999
Publication Date: 1999

The Ancient Hawaiian State by Robert J. Hommon
Call Number: DU624.5 .H66 2013
Publication Date: 2013

Ancient Hawaiian Civilization by E. Craighill Handy
Call Number: DU624.5 .A6 1965
Publication Date: 1965

The Polynesian Family System in Kaʻū, Hawaiʻi by E. S. Craighill Handy; Mary Kawena Pukui; Glen Grant (Introduction by)
Call Number: GN671.H3 H24p 1998
Publication Date: 1998

Importance of Place Names in Hawaiian Culture

“Connotative Values of Hawaiian Place Names,” by Elbert in Directions in Pacific Traditional Literature: Essays in Honor of Katherine Luomala by A. L. Kaeppler (Editor); H. Arlo Nimmo (Editor)
Call Number: GR99.6 .D57
Publication Date: 1976

Creative Processes in Hawaiian Use of Place Names in Chants by Katharine Luomala
Call Number: GR885 .L83 1965a
Publication Date: 1965

Ancestral Places: Understanding Kanaka Geographies by Katrina-Ann R. Kapa'anaokalaokeola Nakoa Oliveira
Call Number: DU624.65 .K38 2014
Publication Date: 2014