Halawa, Hawaii

Halawa may also refer to halva from Lebanon, or a famous valley and stream system (ahupuaʻa) on the island of Molokaʻi.

Hālawa is a stream, a valley, an ahupua‘a, a neighborhood, and a census-designated place (CDP) located in the ‘Ewa District, City & County of Honolulu, Hawai‘i. Hālawa Stream branches into two valleys: North and South Hālawa; North Hālawa is the larger stream and fluvial feature. Their confluence is within the H-3/H-201 highways exchange. Most of Hālawa Valley is undeveloped.

Cultural Significance and H-3 Conflict

The entire ahupuaʻa of Hālawa is highly sacred to Kanaka Maoli. At the far Makai (ocean) side at Puʻuloa or Pearl Harbor, it is, according to Kanaka Maoli beliefs, the home of the shark goddess Kaʻahupahau , known as the "Queen of Sharks", who protected Oʻahu and strictly enforced kind, fair behavior on the part of both sharks and humans Until the late 1890ʻs, the home of Kaʻahupahau was famously lined with beds of pearl oysters, however, according to Kanaka Maoli religious experts who follow the goddess, Kaʻahupahau removed all of the oysters (and some say, herself) because the area was being abused by human misdeeds. Today, the water of Pearl Harbor has been highly contaminated by nuclear defueling and other toxic influences , and has thereby been designated as a Superfund site.

The upland, or Mauka, portion of Hālawa is sacred to Papahanaumoku, the Kanaka Maoli form of Mother Earth, as it is, according to legend, her birthplace and primary home, as well as one of only two or three known remaining Hale o Papa, womenʻs temples where Papa is worshipped. The valley contains many religious and other cultural sites sacred to Kanaka Maoli. Although many sites were destroyed by the invasion of Kahekili II and especially by the building of the highly controversial H-3 Freeway, many remain and are cared for by Kanaka Maoli Aloha ʻAina practitioners to this day.

In the last two decades, North Halawa has been the site of a very public battle over the religious sites and ecological resources destroyed by H-3, which is the most expensive freeway per mile in human history. At least two species were driven to probable extinction (none have been sighted since construction began), many more are declining rapidly, the main aquifer of the area was badly damaged, and religious sites were seriously impacted. Although the freeway was opened in 1997, many are still fighting for mitigation of these impacts, and some are asking for the freewayʻs closure. In 1993, thirteen cultural practitioners were arrested while conducting a ceremony to pray for the healing of the valley. Their lele (religious altar) was destroyed, and the caretakers of the area were barred from entrance to the sites. Today, some of these caretakers, many of them kupuna (elders), have returned to care for the sites, although they now do so through a layer of soot and with the roar of the freeway as a constant sonic backdrop. Many kanaka maoli do not use the freeway because of these impacts, and because of the lasting belief that the road is haunted -- an often-attributed explanation for the high accident rate on the freeway (more generally believed to be caused by the high speeds often used by the motorists who traverse it).

Halawa neighborhoods

"Neighborhoods" of Hālawa are very disjointed, in part because of the significant highway exchanges (see below) that now occupy nearly all of the lower end of Hālawa Valley between Red Hill and Aloha Stadium. Much of the remainder of the valley along both sides of Interstate H-3 is developed into commercial and light industrial properties. On the east side of H-3 are found the State Animal Quarantine Station and the Halawa High and Medium Security Facility (main O‘ahu prison).

Where the valley widens out closer to Pearl Harbor occur residential neighborhoods: Foster Village adjacent to Āliamanu; and the stadium area between Aloha Stadium and Makalapa. The interfluve (uplands between valleys) on the west comprises Halawa Heights, extending up to Camp H. M. Smith. Along the lower, western edge, Halawa Heights merges with the neighhborhoods of ‘Aiea. As of the 2000 Census, the CDP had a total population of 13,891.

The U.S. Postal Code for Hālawa Heights is 96701 (the same as for ‘Aiea). The postal code for Foster Village, the stadium area, and Makalapa is 96818 (the same as Āliamanu).


Hālawa is located at 21°22'39" North, 157°55'22" West (21.377633, -157.922759). According to the United States Census Bureau, the neighborhood has a total area of 6.0 km² (2.3 mi²). 6.0 km² (2.3 mi²) of it is land and none of it is covered by water.

The route of Interstate H-3 extends from its western terminus with east-west Moanalua Freeway (H-201; connecting eastward to Honolulu or westward to H-1 and ‘Aiea) to the 1100-foot (335-m) elevation entrance into the Tetsuo Harano Tunnels penetrating the Ko‘olau crest. The freeway continues beyond to Kāne‘ohe on windward O‘ahu. A significant proportion of Interstate H-3 within the valley is carried on a viaduct (see photo at right). Although very expensive to construct, the viaduct is the only way to construct a freeway of this magnitude through such a narrow valley without flooding and destabilization concerns; it is also believed to offer some returns in terms of preservation of both archeological sites and stream ecology.


As of the census of 2000, there were 13,891 people, 4,142 households, and 3,276 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 2,301.9/km² (5,974.5/mi²). There were 4,289 housing units at an average density of 710.7/km² (1,844.7/mi²). The racial makeup of the town was 15.50% White, 1.83% African American, 0.20% Native American, 50.90% Asian, 10.43% Pacific Islander, 0.84% from other races, and 20.31% from two or more races. 6.52% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 4,142 households out of which 30.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.1% were married couples living together, 13.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 20.9% were non-families. 15.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.28 and the average family size was 3.64.

In the CDP the population was spread out with 23.4% under the age of 18, 9.9% from 18 to 24, 28.3% from 25 to 44, 22.6% from 45 to 64, and 15.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 98.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.3 males.

The median income for a household in Hālawa in 2000 was $63,176, and the median income for a family was $68,519. Males had a median income of $35,764 versus $28,527 for females. The per capita income for the census tract then was $21,868. 10.1% of the population and 7.5% of families were below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 20.9% of those under the age of 18 and 3.7% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.


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