Moanalua Streams

Liquid Futures Lab

Liquid Futures is a collaborative project with Jaimey Hamilton Faris and the Spring 2023 ART 484: Contemporary Art and Ecology class. Liquid Futures hopes to serve as a collaborative model of art practices engaging in regenerating community-environment connection.  Collectively, we have built an archive of models that offer creative approaches to learning about, sharing, and transforming our relations to each other and gifts of this watery world. Some of the modes of Liquid Futures include: oral histories, digital storytelling, re-mapping, collective mural making, toolkits, maps, scores, scripts, tours, hosting events or exchanges, and more.

As a designer, my particular practice is focused on design. This page acts as an archive of my personal pilina with Moanalua Valley; in particular, Moanalua Streams. I frequently walked the trails within it growing up, and it was one of my favorite places to go to to engage with nature. Komorebi, a concept I’ve always found particularly interesting, was something that Moanalua Streams/Valley best represented.

liquid love

Growing up, all I knew was the deep hills of Kalihi. The house I lived in was relatively deeper in the valley, nearby a church and would always look beautiful in the rain. Despite the reputation that Kalihi gets, it was home to me, but my family had plans to move out from the family complex we were in. My mother and grandmother were living on the bottom half of a house shared with my cousins, thus having our own place was something we were looking forward to. Red Hill became the place for us. Moving away from the lush greenery to the bottom floor of an apartment building that mirrored the appearance of typical Section 8 housing, I wasn’t particularly fond until I realized that I was just a few miles away from Moanalua Valley. During high school, I finally had the ability to do things on my own and go out every once in a while, and hiking the valley was something I was consistently been fond of.

Moanalua Valley became the best representation of komorebi, a Japanese concept I’d learned through a Wong Fu Productions video when I was into film and videography. The soft hum of the streams, the occasional sound of the ‘elepaio, the many small bridges with ponds beneath them, the trees carving the sunlight into god rays of energy; Moanalua has since been what I think of as “home”.

streams of lineage

Culture, Community, History, Mo‘olelo

Kamehameha Schools’ historical compilations of the different ahupua‘a provide some insight into the history of this place.”One of the meanings of moana is ‘Campground, consultation places for chiefs’” (Pukui et. al 249). Other meanings suggest Moanalua is referenced from it’s expanse from land to ocean, as it encompasses many familiar landmarks that today are parts of Pearl Harbor, the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, and more.

Moanalua Gardens, popularly known for their monkeypod trees, is commonly associated with Samuel Mills Damon who was a businessman during the final several decades of the Hawaiian Kingdom. He inherited the ahupua‘a from Bernice Pauahi Bishop, though much of the areas surrounding modern day military zones would be surrendered to them. Fortunately, much of Damon’s intentions for Moanalua Gardens and the larger ahupua‘a focused on creating a place of beauty and preservation. Future successors would see to Damon’s will and over the years that Moanalua has maintained and housed a great many generations, myself included, Moanalua would continue to maintain its beauty. (Moanalua Gardens).

Moanalua Valley streams possesses a great depth of cultural significance for the people of Hawaii. It was often used as a recreational and spiritual space, favored by  According to a report by the University of Hawaii, the streams in Moanalua Valley have been used for recreation and relaxation by Hawaiians for centuries (Wiegner et al., 2016). The streams are also considered to be a spiritual space by some Hawaiians, who believe that they are inhabited by mo’o, or guardian spirits.

Mo‘olelo, stories, have been passed down as the ahupua‘a went through various changes in ownership. Nāmakahelu Makaena is responsible for a few of the mo‘olelo passed down regarding Moanalua. Below are a few excerpts from varying sources of mo‘olelo told about Moanalua.

In regards to the value of the waters of Moanalua...

“It is said that this valley, Kamana-iki, had many inhabitants. It is the truth for the stones are standing there, the coconuts are growing and the trail remains. It seemed that they gained a livelihood by farming. Two chiefs lived there in the valley. The one named Kepoo was a good chief. It was said that he planted groves of bananas and most of the orange trees. His dwelling house was close to the pools of Waiapuka... In the center of the smallest pool was a rock big enough to hold three men. It is said that that was where the soothsayers (makaula) sat to meditate on how to benefit the people.” (Sterling et. al 334)


In regards to the upper rim of Aliamanu crater...

It was a place said to be the opening, on the island of Oahu, for mankind to enter eternal night.

“This place is on the northern side of the famous hill of Kapukaki (now Red Hill), at the boundary of Kona and Ewa, right in line with the burial hill of Aliamanu, on the upper side of the old road. It is said that this place [Leilono] is round, about two feet or more in circumference. This is the hole through which the ghosts of people slipped through to go down and this was the strata of Papa-ia-Laka. Through this opening appeared the supernatural branches of the breadfruit of Leiwalo. If a ghost who lacked an aumakua to save him climbed on a branch of the western side of the breadfruit tree, the branch withered at once and broke off, thus plunging the ghost down to the pit of darkness. The boundaries of this place, so the ancients said, were these: Papa-kolea which was guarded by a plover; Koleana whose guard was a big caterpillar and Napeha, the western boundary which was guarded by a lizard.” (Sterling et. al 9)


In regards to Pele, her sister, and the regions of Āliapa‘akai (Salt Lake)...

“Upon their arrival at Oahu, Pele and Hiiaka took up their abode in Kealiapaakai, at Moanalua, where they dug down into the ground and made a home. On coming from Kauai they brought some red dirt and some salt with them and deposited these things in their new home. Because of this fact these places were given the names of Kealiapaakai and Kealiamanu. Upon finding that the place was too shallow they went to settle at Leahi [Diamond Head].” (Sterling and Summers 331)


Geography, Ecology

The health of Moanalua Valley streams is an important concern, as they are a critical component of the ecosystem. According to a study by the University of Hawaii, the streams in Moanalua Valley have been impacted by a variety of factors, including urbanization, agriculture, and invasive species (Wiegner et al., 2016). These impacts have resulted in degraded water quality, reduced flow rates, and altered stream channels.

Water quality is an important factor in the health of the streams. According to a report by the Hawaii Department of Health, the streams in Moanalua Valley have consistently exceeded state standards for levels of turbidity, fecal coliform, and other pollutants (Hawaii Department of Health, 2022). These pollutants can have negative impacts on aquatic species and can also pose a health risk to humans who come into contact with the water.

Reduced flow rates are another concern for the health of the streams. The University of Hawaii study found that flow rates in the streams have been reduced due to diversion of water for irrigation and other uses (Wiegner et al., 2016). This reduction in flow can impact aquatic species by altering their habitat and reducing their access to food.

Altered stream channels are a concern for the health of the streams. The University of Hawaii study found that stream channels in Moanalua Valley have been altered due to urbanization and other factors (Wiegner et al., 2016). These alterations can impact the physical structure of the stream, as well as the habitat for aquatic species.

The ecology of Moanalua Valley streams is diverse and includes a variety of aquatic species. According to a report by the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, the streams in Moanalua Valley are home to several species of fish, including rainbow trout, tilapia, and guppies (Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, 2022). The streams are also home to several species of aquatic insects and other invertebrates, which serve as important food sources for fish and other aquatic species.

However, the ecology of the streams continues to be impacted by the presence of invasive species, as mentioned earlier. According to a study by the University of Hawaii, invasive species can have negative impacts on the ecology of the streams, including altering the physical structure of the stream channels and outcompeting native vegetation (Wiegner et al., 2016). This can result in reduced habitat and food sources for aquatic species. Some species that reside in the valley are also listed as endangered or threatened, some examples being the ‘elepaio, pinapinao, and a‘e.

Despite all this, the health of Moanalua Streams is relatively better in stark contrast to the surrounding regions. As infamously seen to the North is H-3 freeway, which Moanalua was able to narrowly avoid during its construction. Within the ahupua‘a are the Red Hill, whose issues could not be discussed enough. To the South is the Pearl Harbor, and to the east is much of metro Oahu. Still, reports on the stream generally show promise of Moanalua serving as an example of what community-led preservation of a valley might look like.



Fish and Wildlife Service. “Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Endangered Status for 23 Species on Oahu and Designation of Critical Habitat for 124 Species.” Federal Register, 9 Sept. 2012.

Hawaii Department of Health. (2022). Water Quality in the Moanalua Valley Aquifer. Retrieved from

Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources. (2022). Moanalua Valley State Recreation Area. Retrieved from

Hawaiian Historical Society. (n.d.). Ahupua’a. Retrieved from

Leone, Diana. “State Buys Oahu 'Treasure'.” Star Bulletin,

Pukui, Mary Kawena, and Dietrich Varez. “Olelo No”eau : Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings. Bishop Museum Press, 1983.

Shade, Patricia. Analysis of the Rainfall-Runoff Relationship in Moanalua Valley, Oahu, Hawaii. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 1981.

Sites of Oahu. United States, Department of Anthropology, Department of Education, Bernice P. Bishop Museum, 1978.

University of Hawaii. (2016). Moanalua Valley Watershed Management Plan. Retrieved from

Uyeoka, Kelley L, and Momi Wheeler. HĀLAU O PUʻULOA. Kamehameha Schools, 2018.

Images found through listed sources or owned by myself.
Mahalo to Jaimey and the ART 484 Spring 2023 class.