The Streams of Wai`anae Valley


The main stream that flows (sometimes) into the ocean from Wai`anae Valley is Kaupuni Stream.  There is not Wai`anae Stream.  If you follow Kaupuni upstream each tributary has a different name.  Most of the names the Hawaiians gave the various tributaries of Kaupuni are lost.  There are a few names that remain.  From left to right looking mauka they are, Kawiwi, Punana'ula, Kumaipo, Hiu, Kalalula, Kanewai, Kukaki, Nioloopua, Kaneamimi and Kauaopuu.

If you follow Kaupuni upstream from the ocean the first tributary is Kawiwi.  It joins Kaupuni from the left and the junction is in the section with concrete sides and bottoms.  Kawiwi only flows during heavy rain.

Continuing up Kaupuni threw and past the Wai`anae Hawaiian Homestead we come to another tributary again on the left.  This is Punana`ula, which flows year round from a collapsed water tunnel dug at the site of Punana`ula spring.  The Wai`anae Valley cattle ranch diverts all this water for the cattle and only during heavy rain does it's water reach Kaupuni.

The next tributary of Kaupuni is Kauaopuu which comes in on the right just above the mile long C & C water tunnel.  Kauaopuu only flows during heavy rain.

About 360 feet above the junction w/Kauaopuu coming in on the left is Kumaipo.  Kumaipo now only flows during heavy rain.  Before the Bd. of Water Supply drilled the two Wai`anae wells in 1990 Kumaipo often had water flowing in its upper section most of the year.  The two wells lowered the water table and dried up a number of Wai`anae Valley streams.

Above the junction w/Kumaipo, Kaupuni streams becomes Honua stream.  Honua stream flows all year long.  The next tributary is Hiu which also flows in on the left.  Hiu is another stream that up to the drilling of the before mentioned streams has dried up except during heavy rain.  Hiu use to flow all the way to Kaupuni all year long.

Eighteen hundred feet above the junction w/Hiu Kalalula flows in to Honua from the left.  At this point Kalalula flows all year long.   2700 feet above the junction w/Honua, Kalalula dries up.  Again the reason it dries up is the Bd. of Water Supply wells.  Kalalula use to flow all year and strong evidence of this is a dam built by the Wai`anae Sugar Company w/a 12" diameter pipe coming from the dam.  So if Kalalula dries up here where does the water that flows into Honua come from?

The answer is from the plantation tunnels number 14 and 15.  Most of the water comes from tunnel 14 and the flow is strong all year.  Tunnels 14 and 15 flow into an unnamed stream which is a tributary of Kalalula.  I have given this stream the name Ekaha after the many Ekaha ferns (bird nest ferns) that once grew along it's banks.  Most are gone now and I believe only three remain today.

Going back to Honua and continuing up stream we come to a dam, Kanewai Dam #1,  where three streams converge.  They are Kanewai on the left, Kukaki in the middle and Kaneamimi on the right.  This is the end of or more accurately the beginning of Honua stream.  Kanewai is the only one of the three flowing all year.  The source of Kanewai's water is a spring near the end of the unpaved road in the valley and from plantation tunnels numbers 2, 6, 6A, 7, 8, 9, and 19.

If you follow Kanewai for about 700' you come to a small stream bed, now dry, on the right.  This is Nioloopua which only flows during heavy rain.

Back to Kanewai Dam #1 Kukaki and Kaneamimi are both dry except during heavy rain.  Water from plantation tunnel #1 once flowed in to this stream, but this tunnel is now dry and has been even before the well were drilled.

Many of the streams mentioned here have tributaries are dry except during heavy rain and some that have water in their upper sections all year long.

Back in 1972 while attending the University of Hawaii at Manoa I took a cartography class.  My main project was to map out upper Wai`anae Valley from the Forest Reserve Boundry to the Summit of the Wai`anae range.   I was able to do some research in the Board of Water Supply's library and came up w/the numbers for the tunnels dug by the Wai`anae Sugar Plantation and the names to a few streams not found on the USGS maps.  Here is a link to a copy of that map.