The word Nānākuli, the West Oʻahu town that many of Leeward Community College students hail from, has been defined as “to look to the knees” and “to pretend to be deaf.”  But Hawaiian place names are more than literal translations.  Indeed, place names relate history and details of the lives of the people who live in a geographic area. For our featured writer, Nānākuli is the link to her ancestors.

Meet the poet, Elsie Moʻi Peters Itutaua,  Her poem, Nānākuli,  won an honorable mention award, Ka ʻUmeke Kāʻeo Native Hawaiian Writing and Arts Achievement Awards.



to look towards your knees.

“Well that’s all you guys are good for anyway,”

other people tease.


But we say, “Nānākuli Ea!”

rise, go up, raise, become erect.

Stand tall and firm!

Nānākuli Proud!

Nānākuli, the place where

a hero,

mischievous Maui, met the Sun.

He captured it and slowed it down.

Pu‘u Heleakalā.


Nānākuli, the place of

my father

and his eight brothers who

made mischief, like Maui.

But not quite.


Nānākuli, the place where

everybody knows your name,

your family’s name.

Where families are connected,



Proud to come from a place of

a hero, my father, and my family.

Nānākuli Ea!

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