In 1872, some referred to it as “Missionary Street,” although the Missionary Period had ended about 10-years earlier (the Missionary Period was from 1820 – 1863.)
You might more accurately call it the home of the elite, and that is not limited to folks of the Caucasian persuasion – both Kauikeaouli and Emma had summer residences here and included in the list of successful business people who called it home were the Afongs and others.
But you can’t help concluding the strong demand to live there based on early descriptions – even Realtors, today, would be envious of the descriptors Ellis used in 1831: “The scenery is romantic and delightful.”
“Across this plain, immediately opposite the harbour of Honoruru, lies the valley of Anuanu (Nuʻuanu,) leading to a pass in the mountains, called by the natives Ka Pari (Pali,) the precipice, which is well worth the attention of every intelligent foreigner visiting Oahu.” (Ellis, 1831)
“The mouth of the valley, which opens immediately behind the town of Honoruru, is a complete garden, carefully kept by its respective proprietors in a state of high cultivation; and the ground, being irrigated by the water from a river that winds rapidly down the valley, is remarkably productive.” (Ellis, 1831)
Over sixty years later (1897,) Stoddard keeps the demand momentum going by adding, “The way lies through shady avenues, between residences that stand in the midst of broad lawns and among foliage of the most brilliant description. An infinite variety of palms and tropical plants, with leaves of enormous circumference, diversify the landscape.”
Today, the descriptors of the past hold true – and the place is high in the demand (and price,) just as it was nearly two centuries ago.
So, who were some of the people who called this place home?
As noted, an early resident of Nuʻuanu was Kauikeaouli, Kamehameha III. Consistent with tradition, his home had a name, Kaniakapūpū (sound or song of the land snail;) it was located back up into the valley at Luakaha.
Ruins today, the structure, modeled on an Irish stone cottage, was completed in 1845 and is reportedly built on top or in the vicinity of an ancient heiau. It was a simple cottage, a square with four straight walls.
Another royal, Queen Emma, had a “mountain” home, Hānaiakamālama (Lit., the foster child of the light (or moon,)) now known as the Queen Emma Summer Palace. In 1857, she inherited it from her uncle, John Young II, son of the famous advisor to Kamehameha I, John Young I.
The ‘Summer Palace’ was modeled in the Greek Revival style. It has a formal plan arrangement, wide central hall, high ceilings and floor-length hinged, in-swinging shuttered casement window. The Daughters of Hawaiʻi saved it from demolition and it is now operated as a museum and open to the public (a nominal admission fee is charged.)
On the private side, the following are only a few of the several notable residences (existing, or long gone,) in Nuʻuanu Valley.
A notable home is the “Walker Estate;” one of the few intact estates that were built in the upper Nuʻuanu Valley before and after the turn of the century (built in 1905,) it is a two story wood frame structure of Classical Revival style. (NPS)
The home on the 5.7-acre estate was initially built for the Rodiek family, a leading businessman in Honolulu. Due to war time pressures on the family, who were German citizens, the home was sold in 1918 to Wilcox who lived there into the 1930s, when it was taken over by Henry Alexander Walker, president and chairman of the Board of Amfac (one of the Hawaiʻi Big Five businesses.)
The grounds were originally used for orchards and vegetables, although the Japanese garden was put in shortly after the house was built and is thought to be the oldest formal Japanese garden in Hawaiʻi, the stones, lamps and images specially brought from Japan for it. (NPS)
Another notable home is former Governor George Carter’s “Lihiwai” (water’s edge.) In the late-1920s, Carter built his 26,000-square feet home; it is reportedly “the largest and finest private residence ever constructed in Hawaiʻi (with the exception of ʻIolani Palace.)” (NPS)
The entire building is built of shaped bluestone set in concrete and steel reinforced cement, and all the perimeter walls are 2 – 3-feet thick with the exception of the end walls, which are 6-feet thick. It is constructed entirely of bluestone, concrete, steel, copper, bronze and teak.
Originally, the building was connected to two smaller structures — by a breezeway on the eastern side and by the porte-cochere on the western side (these structures were separated in 1957.) The property was originally 10-acres, but portions were subdivided and sold in 1945 after the death of Helen Strong Carter. Today, the property includes the original house on a little over 1-acre. (The home is undergoing restoration.)
A home long gone, but we are repeatedly reminded of it in on-the-air marketing for senior living in Nuʻuanu, is “Craigside.” This was the home of Theophilus Harris Davies. Not only was Davies’ firm, Theo H Davies, one of the Hawaiʻi Big Five, he personally served as guardian to Princess Kaʻiulani while she was studying in England (Davies had another home there – “Sundown.”)
Likewise, just up the hill, was the Paty house “Buena Vista;” it’s now gone and part of the Wyllie Street interchange with Pali Highway. (Look for the parallel palms in the yard of the immediately-makai ‘Community Church of Honolulu.’ They used to line the Paty driveway, with the house off to the left (mauka.)
During the Spanish American War, the military took over Buena Vista and turned it into the Nuʻuanu Valley Military Hospital (also known as “Buena Vista Hospital.”)
Just mauka of Buena Vista (now also part of the Wyllie-Nuʻuanu interchange) was Robert Crichton Wyllie’ “Rosebank.” Wyllie first worked as acting British Consul. Attracted by Wyllie’s devotion to the affairs of Hawaiʻi, in 1845, King Kamehameha III appointed him the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Kamehameha IV reappointed all the ministers who were in office when Kamehameha III died, including Robert C Wyllie as Minister of Foreign Relations (he was in Hawaiʻi from 1844 until his death in 1865.) Wyllie served as Minister of Foreign Relations from 1845 until his death in 1865, serving under Kamehameha III, Kamehameha IV and Kamehameha V.
Finally, a home of a missionary, Dr. Gerrit Parmele Judd, “Sweet Home” was located at the intersection of Nuʻuanu and Judd. Judd was in the 3rd company of missionaries from the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (he was in Hawaiʻi from 1828 until his death in 1873.) After serving the mission for 15-years, Judd was translator and later Minister of Foreign Affairs, member of the House of Nobles and Privy Council, and Minister of Finance under Kamehameha III.
Wife Laura Judd once noted, “we were supposed to be rich,” but insisted they had never been so poor, being obliged to borrow money to pay for carpenters and masons. (Scott, Saga) The house was torn down in 1911 and the property became part of what is now Oʻahu Cemetery.
Kaniakapūpū (translated roughly as “sound (or song) of the land shells”) sits on land managed by the State of Hawaii, Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife, as the Honolulu Watershed Forest Reserve and a Restricted Watershed.
Located in the Luakaha area of Nu‘uanu Valley, O‘ahu, Kaniakapūpū is the ruins of the royal summer palace of King Kamehameha III (Kauikeaouli) and Queen Kalama. Before that, it was the site of a heiau used for healing (heiau hoʻōla) since ancient times.
The structure at Kaniakapūpū (modeled on an Irish stone cottage) was completed in 1845 and is reportedly built on top or in the vicinity of an ancient heiau. It was a simple cottage, a square with four straight walls.
During the Battle of Nu‘uanu in 1795, the forces of King Kamehameha I engaged the warriors of Kalanikupule at Luakaha, some say this was a turning point of that great struggle.
In 1847, as part of an event observing an anniversary of Restoration Day or Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea (celebrating sovereignty being returned to the Kingdom of Hawaii by the British,) Kaniakapūpū was the site of celebration hosted by the King and with guests in attendance in excess of 10,000 people (reportedly, the largest lūʻau ever recorded.)
It is rumored that Kamehameha III may have drafted the Great Mahele here, the land reforms implemented in 1848 that abolished the ahupua‘a system and allowed for private land ownership.
Today, stone ahu or mounds sit just across Lulumahu Stream, marking what many believe to be grave markers of fallen warriors.
The gravesites, the location of the original heiau known as Kaniakapūpū and the placement of the King’s summer palace all attest to the significance of this very special place.
Kaniakapūpū has been placed on both the National and State of Hawaii’s Register of Historic Places.
On November 13, 2002, the burial mounds were brought to the attention of the Oʻahu Island Burial Council. After full discussion, several motions were adopted which would assist in the preservation of Kaniakapūpū and the burial mounds.
When I was at DLNR, we presented and the Land Board unanimously approved (December 8, 2006) the establishment of a Kokua Partnership Agreement with Aha Hui Mālama O Kaniakapūpū.
Aha Hui Mālama O Kaniakapūpū is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of Hawaiian cultural traditions through the conservation of native ecosystems.
Through this partnership, Aha Hui Mālama O Kaniakapūpū would take responsibility for the maintenance and ongoing stewardship of Kaniakapūpū, its immediate surrounding area and the burial mounds located across of Lulumahu Stream.
Aha Hui Mālama O Kaniakapūpū was charged with creating controlled access which would be obtained by permit consistent with the Restricted Watershed rules and would be supervised by a member of the Hui who could also act in a curator capacity.
A plaque placed at the site reads,”Kaniakapūpū – Summer Palace of King Kamehameha III and his Queen Kalama Completed in 1845, it was the scene of entertainment of foreign celebrities the feasting of chiefs and commoners.”
“The greatest of these occasions was a luau attended by an estimated ten thousand people celebrating Hawaiian Restoration Day in 1847.”
In pre-Captain Cook times, kalo (taro) played a vital role in Hawaiian culture. It was not only the Hawaiians’ staple food but the cultivation of kalo was at the very core of Hawaiian culture and identity.
Taro can be cultivated by two very different methods. Upland, or dryland, taro is planted in non-flooded areas that are fed by rainfall. Lowland, or wetland, taro is grown in water-saturated fields.
The early Hawaiians probably planted kalo in marshes near the mouths of rivers. Over years of progressive expansion of kalo lo‘i (flooded taro patches) up slopes and along rivers, kalo cultivation in Hawai‘i reached a unique level of engineering and sustainable sophistication.
Kalo lo‘i systems are typically a set of adjoining terraces that are typically reinforced with stone walls and soil berms. Wetland taro thrives on flooded conditions, and cool, circulating water is optimal for taro growth, thus a system may include one or more ʻauwai (irrigation ditches) to divert water into and out of the planting area. (McElroy)
Most important in the system of distribution of water for application to the soil were the main ditches diverting the water from natural streams. Each of these large ʻauwai was authorized and planned by the King or by one or more chiefs or konohiki whose lands were to be watered thereby, the work of excavation being under the direction of the chief providing the largest number of men. (Perry, Hawaiʻi Supreme Court)
The ʻauwai construction and maintenance formed foundations around which an entire economy, class system, and culture functioned. The ʻauwai, lo‘i and the taro plant’s mythical and spiritual connections in Hawaiian society influenced individual and social activity within the ahupua‘a. (Handy, HART)
Taro cultivation affected many aspects of Hawaiian life: the labor required to build and maintain the ʻauwai; the shared water rights; and tributes to the Mō‘ī and to the chiefs (Ali‘i.) (Handy, HART)
All ʻauwai had a proper name, and were generally called after either the land, or the chief of the land that had furnished the most men, or had mainly been instrumental in the inception, planning and carrying out of the required work. All ʻauwai tapping the main stream were done under the authority of a konohiki of an ahupuaʻa. (Nakuina, Thrum)
ʻAuwai were generally dug from makai – seaward or below – upwards. The konohiki who had the supervision of the work having previously marked out where it would probably enter the stream, the diggers worked up to that point.
The different representatives in the ahupuaʻa taking part in the work furnished men according to the number of kalo growers on each land. (The quantity of water awarded to irrigate the loʻi was according to the number of workers and the amount of work put into the building of the ʻauwai.)
Dams that diverted water from the stream were a low loose wall of stones with a few clods here and there, high enough only to raise water sufficiently to flow into the ʻauwai, which should enter it at almost a level. No ʻauwai was permitted to take more water than continued to flow in the stream below the dam (i.e. no more than half.)
Use of the water was regulated by time increments, which varied from a few hours each day for a small kalo patch to two or three days for a kalo plantation. By rotation with others on the ʻauwai, a grower would divert water from the ʻauwai into his kalo. The next, in turn, would draw off water for his allotted period of time. (KSBE)
The ʻauwai primarily existed to support taro cultivation. Other crops, such as sweet potatoes, bananas or sugar cane, were regarded as dry land crops dependent on rainfall. Sugar cane and bananas were almost always planted on loʻi banks (kuauna) to receive moisture seeping through. (Nakuina, Thrum)
ʻAuwai varied in size and structure depending on the number and size of lo‘i they irrigated. In smaller lo‘i, water could be directed from one terrace into the next below it. However, larger lo‘i required individual ʻauwai capable of carrying more water. In more complex systems, these might be branches from another ʻauwai, often connected to the same source. (HART)
An early description of ʻauwai is from explorer Nathaniel Portlock, noting the Kauaʻi ʻauwai in 1787, “This excursion gave me a fresh opportunity of admiring the amazing ingenuity and industry of the natives in laying out the taro and sugar-cane grounds; the greatest part of which are made up on the banks of the river, with exceeding good causeways made with stones and earth, leading up the valleys to each plantation; the taro beds are in general a quarter of a mile over, dammed in, and they have a place on one part of the bank, that serves as a gateway.”
“When the rains commence, which is in the winter season, the river swells with the torrents from the mountains, and overflowed their taro-beds; and when the rains are over, and the rivers decrease, the dams are stopped up, and the water kept in to nourish the taro and sugar-cane during the dry season; the water in the beds is generally about one foot and a half, or two feet, over a muddy bottom … the taro also grows frequently as large as a man’s head.”
Another early description of ʻauwai and loʻi is from Otto von Kotzebue, a Russian naval officer who was in the Islands in 1816, “The artificial taro fields, which may justly be called taro lakes, excited my attention. … I have seen whole mountains covered with such fields, through which water gradually flowed; each sluice formed a small cascade which ran … into the next pond, and afforded an extremely picturesque prospect.”
The burden of maintaining the ditches fell upon those whose lands were watered; failure to contribute their due share of service rendering the delinquent hoaʻāina (tenant) subject to temporary suspension or to entire deprivation of their water rights or even to total dispossession of their lands. (YaleLawJournal)
In some ʻauwai, not all of the water was used; after irrigating a few patches the ditch returned the remainder of the water to the stream. (YaleLawJournal)
One notable ʻauwai, with water still flowing through it (however, the loʻi kalo is long gone) is in Nuʻuanu. After damage to the ʻauwai system during the battle of Nuʻuanu, Kamehameha moved to quickly restore the valley’s agriculture production, summoning Kuhoʻoheiheipahu Paki to rebuild the irrigation system.
“(I)n three days, (Paki) rallied several hundred men to construct the tremendous Nuʻuanu irrigation system which supplies the numerous pondfields (from Luakaha, near Kaniakapūpū to around what is now Judd Street) …this irrigation system is known even today as the Paki ʻauwai.” (Hawaiʻi Legislature)
Among other loʻi along its course, Paki ʻAuwai served the loʻi kalo of Queen Emma at Hānaiakamālama (the Queen’s Summer Palace.)
The image shows a portion of the rock-lined Paki ʻAuwai in Nuʻuanu (just below Kaniakapūpū (you take the same trail to see each.)) In addition, I have added other related images in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook and Google+ pages.