Kāne a me Kanaloa
Kane and Kanaloa were swimming in the Kahala area. After their swim they wanted to rinse off and drink water. The two searched for water and headed to the Moʻiliʻili area. They searched and searched and no water could be found. Kanaloa became frustrated and began to tease Kane and his abilities to find fresh water. Kāne kept telling Kanaloa to be patient. Soon Kāne located a spot where he thought there was fresh water. Many believed Kāne had the ability to hear the water moving in the ground. Using his oʻo made of kamani, Kāne struck the ground with his oʻo and a huge spring of cool fresh water sprung up. The two akua were able to rinse the sand off their bodies, drink water and ʻawa. The area where Kāne created the spring is called Kānewai, the area that the sand washed off their bodies is called Kānaloa. This area is also known today as the Sand Quarry.
Hoʻokahe Wai Hoʻoulu ʻĀina
In the early 1980s, a handful of Native Hawaiian students enrolled at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa uncovered the remnants of an ancient ‘auwai (irrigation ditch) in bushes alongside Mānoa stream. They discovered that this land, called Kānewai, was highly valued for its kalo (taro) productivity even before Kamehameha conquered O‘ahu and remained a royal possession well after the Great Māhele in 1848. Over the years, the property once cultivated by the maka‘ainana, and later by farmers of Chinese and Japanese ancestry, became part of the landscape of the university. With the Hawaiian renaissance movement taking shape throughout Hawai‘i, the project Ho‘okahe Wai Ho‘oulu ‘Āina (based on the philosophy, “make the water flow, make the land productive,”) was initiated through the student organization Hui Aloha ‘Āina Tuahine.
The emphasis was to create a unique resource for the university and the surrounding community by providing experiential learning opportunities and a peaceful retreat from the urban surroundings. The vision for the revitalization of this site, as outlined by the students, became even more evident once the physical project took shape. With the guidance of kūpuna such as Harry Mitchell, an ‘auwai leading from the Mānoa stream, lo‘i (taro gardens), māla ‘ai (dry planting areas), and a hālau (thatched pavilion) were constructed. The Ho‘okahe Wai Ho‘oulu ‘Āina project created a non-profit corporation to fund activities at the site as well as refine the objectives and purposes at the lo‘i in their Charter of Incorporation that has been the foundation for Kānewai.
The objectives of the site remained the same as leadership changed. In the mid-1980s, oversight of the gardens came under the School of Hawaiian, Asian, and Pacific Studies. Despite the minimal financial resources that the university invested in staff to operate Kānewai, the gardens continued to flourish due in large part to the dedication and work of volunteers.