Formerly known as Iao Stream, Wailuku River is the traditional, historical and most appropriate name. It has taken many years of community activism to reclaim the name.
“The Hawaiʻi Board on Geographic Names unanimously voted last night to restore the name Wailuku River to the waterway that runs through ʻĪao Valley (May 28, 2015).”
“After many years of historical and cultural research along with knowledge shared by many kūpuna within the Nā Wai ʻEhā region, the original name of the stream is Wailuku River/Stream. On every single Hawaiian Kingdom Land Document dating back to the 1840s, maps, and even Hawaiian Language newspapers from the 1800s, the name is Wailuku River or in Hawaiian “Kahawai o Wailuku” Sometimes even known as “Kahawai Nui o Wailuku”. Following the installation of stream diversions by Wailuku Sugar Company in the late 1800s early 1900s, and the dewatering of the Wailuku Stream, the name was changed to ʻĪao Stream / River. For over 100 years, the stream has been what we deemed as “dead” for it no longer flowed from the mountain to the sea. After 10+ years of advocating for the restoration of our streams in Nā Wai ʻEhā, and the fact that many of them are now flowing mauka to makai, we believe (Hui o Nā Wai ʻEhā) that we should reclaim and restore the original name of this once great river, Wailuku River. The name ʻĪao as we know it, refers to the valley for which Wailuku River flows out of.”
The Wailuku River Reclaimed