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State to redo ahupuaa sign, add diacritical marks to 19

By June Watanabe

LAST UPDATED: 2:20 a.m. HST, Jan 5, 2012

Question: I have noticed with pleasure the brown highway signs marking ahupuaas (Kokua Line, Dec. 5), but my daughter pointed out with dismay that none have diacritical marks. These important historical designations should be written properly. I found it fascinating that the photo accompanying your column ( had some diacritical marks for “Ahupua‘a Kane‘ohe,” but no kahako (macron) for Kane‘ohe. Signs for He‘eia and Kahalu‘u have no diacriticals at all. Who decides to make some signs partially correct and others completely missing their punctuation?

Answer: Thanks to your observations, the state Department of Transportation will redo a wrong sign, install a new one and replace 19 signs because of missing diacritical marks  — either the ‘okina (glottal stop) or kahako.

(The Star-Advertiser’s style is to use diacritical marks only in names of people, organizations and vessels.)

The department “takes full responsibility for the mistakes,” said spokesman Dan Meisenzahl, when asked if anyone from the department or the Ko‘olaupoko Hawaiian Civic Club, which spearheaded the project, had signed off on the signs before installation.

“This project is a labor of love for a handful of employees who have been working hard to make it a reality while taking care of their other, more pressing responsibilities,” Meisenzahl said. “A lot of decisions were made in an effort to improve the program while working with community organizations and mistakes were made along the way.”

However, he said, the department now has “a clear, consistent policy moving forward.” Correcting the mistakes will cost $456.

Initially, the signs designating ahupuaas (land divisions) in Windward Oahu were part of a pilot project conforming to sign standards set by the National Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices. After the project was completed, the decision was made to deviate from those standards and to use diacriticals on future signs.

It was then decided to post signs showing diacriticals immediately for the sake of uniformity and to make sure that the Hawaiian language is used properly, Meisenzahl said.

By the end of January, the department plans to replace an incorrect sign, “Ahupua‘a He‘eia” with “Ahupua‘a Kahalu‘u” near 47-525 Kamehameha Highway. It will install a new sign at 48-488 Kamehameha Highway to mark the Waikane-Hakipuu boundary.

The department also will make two of each new name sign to replace existing signs without the diacriticals in the word “ahupuaa” for nine districts, plus one new sign for Kaaawa.

Heat Is On

At the Patsy T. Mink Central Oahu Regional Park aquatics center and showers, that is.

In our Nov. 18 column, a parks official said broken heaters at several city pools would be replaced, noting that heaters were working at some facilities, including at the Central Oahu facility. However, a couple of readers said it may be true the heaters there were not broken, but the problem was they weren’t turned on.

They said they were told the heaters were turned off because of budgetary reasons, problems with the homeless, or that it was a choice between heated showers or a heated pool.

When asked about that, a parks official acknowledged “a miscommunication occurred” after a change in managers at the aquatics center. The new manager decided the city could save money by not turning on shower heaters.

“He did this as he felt that whatever funds he could save would benefit the city and he was correct, we did, but he was not instructed to do so,” a parks official said.

Hot showers have been and will be available through February.

Meanwhile, at the Wahiawa pool, the shower heaters simply don’t work. However, repairs are scheduled for “early” this year.

Write to “Kokua Line” at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email

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