Exploring the history of the Pawa'a neighborhoodUPDATED 7:27 PM HST Oct 31, 2013Video Transcript
Who used to live in your neighborhood, what it used to look like, even what people used to call it? Tonight we take a MORE LOCAL look at a Honolulu neighborhood Barack Obama used to call home.. It's often called McCully, Moiliili or Makiki... but rarely by its historical name, Pawa'a. KITV4's Justin Fujioka was born and raised there and went back to talk to current residents, about "Where U Live?" Hidden within a sea of concrete, there's the Honolulu neighborhood of Pawa'a. A name that's just as hidden from the thousands of people who pass through the area each day... even with those who live here. Justin Fujioka: "WHAT WOULD YOU CALL THIS NEIGHBORHOOD? " Woman: "MOILIILI OR MCCULLY I GUESS." Man: "MAKIKI I GUESS. I DON'T KNOW." Man: "I HAVE NO IDEA." Maybe it's because the name Pawa'a is so hard to find nowadays. You may see it on a few buildings, some fire department vehicles and a couple of street signs within the neighborhood's loose boundaries... the H-1 Freeway, McCully Street, Kapi'olani Boulevard and Ke'eaumoku Street. Justin Fujioka: "YOU LIVED HERE 24 YEARS, BUT YOU NEVER HEARD THE WORD PAWA'A?" Man: "NO, NEVER." Man: "I HAVE NEVER HEARD THAT BEFORE." Kamanamaikalani Beamer: "PAWA'A IS A CANOE HOUSE, YEAH? OR THERE WAS A CANOE-BUILDING HOUSE THAT WAS IN THE AREA AND THAT'S WHAT IT WAS FAMED FOR AND PROBABLY IT WAS A STRATEGIC LOCATION IN TERMS OF HOW CANOES COULD GET UP TO THAT AREA FROM THE SEA. SO THERE PROBABLY WAS, YOU KNOW, WATERWAYS THAT ENABLED YOU TO ACCESS IT." Today, the only waterway in Pawa'a is Makiki Stream... next to what used to be Cinerama Theatre, which was originally named the Pawa'a Theatre when it was built in 1929. Back then, much of Pawa'a was banana fields and rice paddies -- a Chinese- dominant area known as the "Pake Patch." Meadow Gold Dairies was fairly new to the neighborhood -- known at the time as The Honolulu Dairymen's Association. The medical building Hale Pawa'a now sits at its original location at Beretania and Ke'eaumoku Streets. Just makai, between Young and King Streets was one of the few things that still exists today -- the Department of Agriculture. Justin Fujioka: "PAWA'A IN-HA PARK USED TO BE AN OPEN LOT AND HOME TO THE HONOLULU POLICE DEPARTMENT. IT'S VIRTUALLY THE CENTER OF THE PAWA'A NEIGHBORHOOD. " H-P-D moved into the area in 1961... replacing Sears in a building often referred to as the Pawa'a Annex. It was demolished in 1995 and replaced by condominiums... taking one of the last prominent references of Pawa'a with it. Woman: "I HAVEN'T HEARD OF IT, CALLED THAT IN A LONG TIME." Woman: "WHEN I WAS A KID, EVERYTHING WAS PAWA'A. BUT NOT NOW, FOR SOME REASON. I GREW UP NEAR HERE." Justin Fujioka: "WHY DO YOU THINK NO ONE CALLS IT PAWA'A ANYMORE?" Woman: "I HAVE NO IDEA. MAYBE THEY ALL MOVED AWAY." Whatever the reason, one thing's for sure. Pawa'a's current residents are certainly keeping this neighborhood alive -- whatever you call it. Man: "I ALWAYS THOUGHT I WAS IN MAKIKI, BUT I JUST FOUND OUT I WAS IN PAWA'A." Justin Fujioka: "WHAT WOULD YOU CALL THIS NEIGHBORHOOD? " Woman: "HOME." Justin Fujioka, KITV4 News. So why do you think fewer and fewer people call the neighborhood Pawa'a? Tell us what YOU think on Facebook... Then we'll tell you what our U-H historian says, tomorrow on KITV4 Morning News. Next Thursday, a then-and-now look at Kakaako!