As one turns onto Lower Main Street, know this is the Ahuakokole ili (subdivision), courtesy of Hokuao Pellegrino.
"Hokuao" in Hawaiian refers to "Venus, star of the morning"; like his name, Pellegrino is illuminating the cultural landscape - in his case, through scholarly research.
At age 30, he is in his eighth year of combing through the archives and scouring old maps at Central Maui's Bailey House Museum. The goal of his research is to revive the traditional place names and boundaries of Native Hawaiian land divisions.
The Maui News / AMANDA COWAN photo
Hokuao Pellegrino examines an old map in the bowels of the Bailey House Museum archives as part of his eight-year research project into the traditional place names and boundaries of Native Hawaiian land divisions. He and his ‘ohana grow taro at their Nohoana Farm on kuleana land beside Waikapu Stream. The farm occupies all of a 2.75-acre ili, or subdivision, with the same name: Nohoana, translated as “living” and referring to the lifestyle of taro cultivation.
"Nowhere else in Polynesia does one find such detailed descriptions and names for every land division," the Wailuku native said.
"An ahupua'a is relatively well known, but an ili really defines the cultural landscape," said the St. Anthony High graduate, who holds a degree in sociology and anthropology from Notre Dame de Namur University in the Bay Area.
He explained that a moku is a district, while an ahupua'a is generally a pie-shaped land division that traditionally runs from the uplands to the sea.
An ili - the object of his fascination - is a subdivision ranging in size from two to 200 acres. Pellegrino said more than 1,000 ili exist in the Hawaiian archipelago.
For example, he elaborated that Paukukalo means "chunks of kalo" and refers to small-sized taro patches. In near-shore areas, like Paukukalo ili, stream water is warmer. Since taro thrives in cool water, the patches were small, so water could flow in and out of the patches very quickly, he said.
Other ili names include Waikani, or water sounding, a traditional place name for Happy Valley.
In the near term, his research has provided background for Na Wai 'Eha court case to protect traditional water resources. Long term, he envisions his research as the basis for a dissertation.
Pellegrino earned a Hawaiian-language certificate at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, where he taught Hawaiian ethnobotany and was cultural landscape curator for the 'Imiloa Astronomy Center on the UHH campus. Currently, he is Maui regional coordinator of outreach education for the Kamehameha Schools Extension Education Services Division. In this post, he serves non-Kamehameha Hawaiian students by running programs during fall and spring intersessions, summertime Explorations and a Founder's Day presentation in early December.
For these initiatives, Pellegrino has developed two impressive educational texts based on his Bailey House Museum research.
The educator said he wants to "bring life back to the ili. Ili played a strategic role in the ahupua'a." His work involves "revitalizing, giving new life to ili."
Pellegrino is a great-great-great-great-grandson of the original Baileys of Bailey House Museum. Edward and Caroline Bailey assumed responsibility in 1844 for the Wailuku Female Seminary once housed in the structure. Pellegrino, who calls Edward Bailey "my fourth great-grandfather," is proud of both his Caucasian and Hawaiian ancestors.
On the Hawaiian side, Na'ili'ili was "my fourth great-grandfather, one of the last konohiki (land managers) of Pohakuokauhi ili.
"He oversaw the ili, a very important ili in the Wailuku ahupua'a. In that district were the two largest auwai (human-made irrigation ditches) that existed in 'Iao - the Kalani 'auwai and the Kama 'auwai. Both ditches were named after famous Maui ruling chiefs.
"Na'ili'ili's daughter was my third great-grandmother; she married Bailey's son. That's how Bailey ties into the Hawaiian side," Pellegrino recounted about the marriage between Emale Kane and Edward H. Bailey.
Pellegrino said he used to travel to Bishop Museum for research, but discovered that Bailey House Museum has everything the Oahu repository has, only on a smaller scale. He indicated that Bailey House provides a valuable prism through which one may see the ancient and the contemporary juxtapose, and the evolution in between.
"People supporting the museum is very important," he said of Bailey House. "It not only helps preserve the history and artifacts of Maui, but also helps people get a better understanding of our island as it was at one time.
"What's neat about spending time looking at and researching old maps, I can actually see the cultural landscape overlapping. I can kind of respect both the old and the new."
He has helped collect and index maps for Bailey House. And, he and dad Victor Pellegrino have helped clean and restore the Bailey House archives, and done curatorial activities.
Nicole McMullen, executive director of the Bailey House Museum and Maui Historical Society, praised the younger Pellegrino's efforts that have benefited his ancestral site.
"He's a scholar," she affirmed. "He loves to research. He spends a lot of time in the archives and has done quite a bit of volunteer work. We're very fortunate to have him work with us."
As the museum's annual E Ho'oulu Aloha benefit approaches, McMullen seeks a dawn of more scholarly research, of new society members and of additional volunteers to help bring the 176-year-old museum into the 21st century.
"I call him our Hawaiian consultant," she said of Hokuao Pellegrino. "This is his research that we want to be a part of. We want more people like him to use our research facilities."
* Kekoa Enomoto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.