Click here to here the proper pronunciation of AHUPUA'A

Definition from Pukui/Elbert Hawaiian Dictionary, Copyright 1986

  • land division, usually extending from the uplands to the sea, so called because the boundary was marked by a heap (ahu) of stones surmounted by an image of a pig (pua'a), or because a pig or other tribute was laid on the alter as tax to the chief


The shape of an ahupua’a is similar to a piece of pie. Each moku or district is made up of these smaller land divisions.

Each ahupua’a is like a slice of pie that begins at the top of the mountain and goes down to the ocean. In old Hawai’i, people who lived in the mountains would barter with those who lived near the ocean. A complete balance in this land system is what kept the Hawaiian people alive.

Today, Hawai’i still recognizes some of these ahupua’a such as Honolulu, Waikiki, Kailua, and Nanakuli.

This is the third level of land division, one of the most popular divisions of land.

Although many people are familiar with the term, many are not familiar with the history of land divisions in Hawai’i. The Great Mahele of 1848 is a great tool to educate those who are interested in Hawai’i’s land tenure history.

Example: Moanalua, Kalihi, Kapalama, Honolulu, and Waikiki are samples of the ahupua’a in the Honolulu (Kona) District on the island of O’ahu.