When you think of Waikīkī in the late 19th century, and famous Lēʻahi (Diamond Head) silhouetted against the sky, what do you picture? Did you know that the name Waikīkī means “spouting waters,” referring to the rich wetlands seen there in the past? The modern Waikīkī we know today is a very different place from the Waikīkī of a century past, when wetland agriculture was practiced in the vicinity. With the arrival of different groups of immigrant workers contracted for plantation agriculture, men from Asia who were able to stay in Hawaiʻi began to secure places to live and ways to make a living outside the plantations. Wetland agriculture shifted from growing kalo (taro) to other food plants, especially rice, across the Islands. Wet areas in historic Waikīkī were used to grow rice, although even these changes would be difficult to imagine when looking at Waikīkī today.
Explore the history of food and the work of Bishop Museum by clicking on the images below.
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