FROM ONE WHO LOVES HILO
Editor, The Star-Bulletin.
Sir: Will you kindly insert in your paper an item which may be of interest to your readers, especially perhaps to those who are residents of Hilo and the island of Hawaii.
Several years ago my friend, the Rev. Stephen Desha of Hilo, told me a very pretty and romantic story pertaining to the location of Hilo. As the showers of rain brought in by the ocean breezes pass over the village, the rain drops falling on the leaves of the lehua trees in the forest, made a pleasant sound, giving rise to the name “Kani-lehua,” which became a poetic name for Hilo, as that if any one living on one of the other islands should say “I am going to Kanilehua,” it was understood that he was going to Hilo.
In explanation it should be saidthat the name kani-lehua, is derived from two words, kani, a sound, musical or otherwise, and lehua, an indigenous tree, the beautiful blossom of which is the national flower of Hawaii, and was much used in the making of leis.
In Hilo I have often stood on the Puna side of the bay admiring the grand and beautiful view of the long line of the Hilo and Hamakua coast, with its fern covered precipices and broad fields of sugar cane, beyond which lay the forest, and, towering over all, the tops of Hawaii’s three great mountains, and I thought that if ever a hotel were built on that side of the bay, how much I should like to sit on an upper lanai quietly enjoying the scene, and that an appropriate name for such a hotel might be Hotel Kanilehua.
A small leaflet giving the origin of the name might be of interest to tourists and add a very pleasant memory. I hope this suggestion will not appear presuming on my part, for I have always retained a great aloha for Hilo from the time of my first visit there in the sixties [1860s].
(Star-Bulletin, 4/9/1830, p. 6)