Waipā has a broad river plain nestled between the sea and the ridges leading to the massif Mamalahoa.  It shares the crescent bay with its neighbors. Waipā is To request from the gods in prayer.


Waipā: To request from the gods in prayer

Alt: Wai-paʻa, Dammed up water

Waipā contains 1486 acres (6.8 square kilometers) of land. It has a broad river plain nestled between the sea and the ridges leading to the massif Mamalahoa.  It shares the crescent bay with its neighbors.

The name Dammed up water refers to the frequent building up of a sand bar which prevents the stream from flowing directly into the ocean.  

This, according to legend, was caused by a chief named Lauhaka.  His mother left her husband, the Ruling Chief of Waimea about 800 A.D., because of his cruelty. Lauhaka was raised in the mountains by his uncle, a birdcatcher. Learning that two birdcatchers were trapping the forbidden `uwa`u birds, the Ruling Chief sent some warriors to kill them. Lauhaka stationed himself on the steep path where only one man at a time could come toward him. As Lauhaka killed the soldiers, the bodies fell into the stream and dammed up the river.

Two places in Waipā are named after two fabulous, mythical birds, Halulu and Kīwa’a. Halulu was the bird that the great god Kāne sent to the four directions of chaos to announce that he was about to create the world.

Halulu was also a man-eating bird from Ka-lā-ke`e-nui-a-Kāne who could take on human form when he wished.  The feathers were made out of “particles of water from the dazzling orb of the sun,” and each feather was tipped by a talon. Halulu captured a hero named Aukele and took him to his cave high on a cliff where he had other captives. From time to time Halulu would reach in a wing and seize a victim to eat.  When Halulu reached in to grab Aukele, he and his fellow captives cut Halulu’s wing into pieces and did the same with the other wing. When Halulu stuck in his head, Aukele cut it off.  The feathers taken from the head were called Hina-wai-koli’i, a name passed on to the feathers that rose and fell on the heads of images in answer to a kahuna’s petition.

Kīwa’a was Halulu’s sister and helped Aukele leave his prison by creating a po’omuku, a headless rainbow, so called because it contained only three colors: yellow (lenalena), red (ula), and green (omaomao).  The kīwa’a is also the pilot bird which leads a navigator through the surf to the canoe shed at the landing place.

Waipā was the home of Kauahoa, the handsome warrior of Hanalei.  His name is attached to several places in Halalea district. He lived about 75 years before the discovery of these islands by Captain Cook. He was the last of the heroic warriors of Kauai history.

Although the ruins of only one heiau remains, the place names indicate an unusual emphasis on religion.  In the ‘ili of Ke-ali’i, there are found Kahili-unu, Feather standard altar, Kapu-hai, Taboo for the altar, and Ke-ahu, The cairn.  This latter was most likely the pile of rocks that marked the boundary with the neighboring ahupua’a and was where the Makahiki god remained until the ho’okupu, the annual tribute or tax, had been collected.

At the Mahele in 1850, Keelikolani, better known as Princess Ruth, claimed for herself all of the lands not taken by individual claims.

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