Wainiha: The headwaters of Wainiha river rise in Alakaʻi Swamp and Waiʻaleʻale lake and flow 14 miles to the sea, making this the longest valley of Kauaʻi. Wainiha is an Angry stream.


 

Wainiha: Angry stream

Lit: Unfriendly stream

Alt: Wai-naha, Curving stream.

The headwaters of Wainiha river rise in Alakaʻi Swamp and Waiʻaleʻale lake and flow 14 miles to the sea, making this the longest valley of Kauaʻi. Wainiha, with 43.5 square kilometers, is the second largest ahupuaʻa of Haleleʻa. The river has formed a narrow, steep sided valley whose cliffs at places rise over 3000 feet from the sea level. Countless tributary streams flow from Alakaʻi, especially after the heavy rains that often inundate the area.  The valley only widens a little towards the sea to a bay that is usually too rough for any ocean activity.  Consequently the border was widened to include the long flat area and reef of Naue.

There were lo’i far up into the valley, many of them displaying great ingenuity in their placement and the engineering of the ditches necessary to water the fields. Sweet potatoes for food, paper mulberry for clothing, olonā for fiber, noni for medicine,  and other useful plants were grown the entire length of the valley.

Bananas grew everywhere. One species, the mai`a Polapola, the Borabora banana (Musa pehn), grew wild. This banana was considered to be indigenous to Kaua’i, and perhaps was brought here by the legendary people called the Mu who lived in this wild valley.  Another legendary people, the Menehune, also made Wainiha their home. 

Wainiha was famed for the variety and quality of the ‘awa, Piper mythysticum,  that grew here. ‘Awa mamaka, a variety of kava with short internodes and a light green stalk, was always in demand.  The best, awa mokihana, which had a fragrance similar to the mokihana berries of mountains, had short yellow-white internodes and hairlike roots.  It gave a particularly potent brew and was reserved strictly for the use of the highest chiefs.

Because of the richness of the land, Wainiha has always supported a large population. In the 1914 census, there were nine villages reaching from the sea to the deepest part of the valley. It was a popular place of the Ruling Chiefs of ancient times. The last king of Kauai, Kaumuali’i, often lived here during his childhood and he married his first wife here.  [For 5:97][PE] [Geo][Emer][Alex][Handy, Hwn Plant: 420][Earle: 32]