Kūlua - the meaning behind it all
Recently, I've been asked a lot what "Kūlua" means. Like most Hawaiian names, it's not a simple answer, but one layered with meaning, insight, and modern interpretation.
Kūlua, according to Mary Kawena Puku'i's Hawaiian Dictionary, translates as "pairing off, as of mates; twins". Place Names of Hawai'i translates it as "Lit., two standing". And it is also found in Sites of Maui as an ancient name, perhaps referring to the two districts of East and West Maui. Kumu Kapono'ai Molitau expands on the Maui reference in explaining that the people of old would reference the districts as Kūlua Haleakalā and Kūlua Pu'u Kukui.
Simply put, Kūlua is a pair. These pairs can be physical in geography like the pair of mountains that make up Maui or a pair of cinder cones on the Northeast Rift of Mauna Loa. They can be physical in nature with the symbiotic relationships of life like the Kumulipo's naming and pairing of ocean life with a guard living on land. They can also be pairs in life - soul mates or duos that, together, become a better version of their individual selves. Or even pairs that transcend time.
To me, Kūlua is what I strive for my relationship with my partner to be. It reminds me of the twin streams of Waiehu that we are blessed to call our home. And it is a physical metaphor for us - my kāne is from Pukalani on Haleakalā and my family is from Waiehu on Pu'u Kukui.
"Kū a 'aha lua - a standing together in twos, a time of comradeship, not contention"
Mary Kawena Pukui's 'Ōlelo No'eau #1854
photo: Anna Kim Photography