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Location of Nu‘uanu

Hawaiian Islands Map


O‘ahu is the major inhabited island in the Hawaiian chain. It is separated from Kaua‘i by the wide ‘Ie‘ie Channel, and from the "Maui Nui" group of islands by the Ka‘iwi Channel. Moloka‘i is the only other island that can be seen from O‘ahu, and that is only on a clear day from the very eastern edge. In today's terms, the entire Island of O‘ahu is the "City and County of Honolulu." But in Hawaiian terms,Nu‘uanu has very special meanings.

Nu‘uanu is part of the ahupua‘a of Honolulu, and not an ahupua‘a in its own right. In this case, we have chosen to make an exception to our ahupua‘a-based look at the Hawaiian Islands. Nu‘uanu is an area of enormous historical and cultural importance that transects a number of layers of Hawaiian Island history. At the same time, it cuts through the heart of contemporary Honolulu City, which now expands throughout the entire Kona district and beyond.

O'ahu Ahupua'a Map

Within the Island of O‘ahu, Nu‘uanu resides in the Kona or Southern section. Today this is called the Honolulu district. O‘ahu was divided into six moku ‘aina ("districts") that correspond roughly to contemporary administrative divisions, although today there are seven. Nu‘uanu is the central valley of the Honolulu ahupua‘a, which lies in the middle of the Kona district.

Nu‘uanu has a distinct locational feature, in that it has for centuries been a passageway between the windward and leeward sides of the Ko‘olau mountains. At the seaward (makai) end, Nu‘uanu has another important transportational role, although this one is more recent: Nu‘uanu stream is the cause of a passage through the reef that became Honolulu harbor. For this reason, the foot of Nu‘uanu became the largest city in the Hawaiian Islands.



Ongoing changes in transportation technology and urbanization continue to give Nu‘uanu a central position within urban Honolulu. The centers of commerce and activity lie at the foot of the valley. Though two other passages over the mountains have been created, Nu‘uanu still remains a crossroads between two major transportation routes. For a closer look at the spaces of Nu‘uanu go to the orientation page.



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