Mililani Uka Elementary School is poetically translated as: Nestled in the uplands – the beloved place (of the chiefs). The name of this school should be pronounced mee-lee-la-knee u-ka. “Uka” is a directional and can be found abundantly in Hawaiian songs, poetry and prose. The school is nestled between the Wai’anae and Ko’olau mountains, both important water sources for the present-day community of Mililani. “Mililani” refers to a new and ever-expanding community with shopping centers, recreational parks and a golf course. The name, Mililani, however has links to famous individuals including Princess Victoria Kamamalu and John Papa I’i. Major streets carry the traditional Hawaiian names for stars, days and nights of the lunar calendar.
By comparing maps, either modern and old, we can locate the school in the ahupua’a or small land division of Waipi’o (curved waters). At various times, this ahupua’a was ruled by the different chiefdoms of Wahi-awa, ‘Ewa, and even Wai’anae. The ahupua’a was so named because of the curvatures of the stream of Waikele which formed the Waikakalaua Gulch and the northern boundary of this land division, and the stream of Kipapa, architect of the Kipapa Gulch, just south of the school. Chiefs of ancient times often warred with one another for possession of this area because of its abundance of water and its peace-loving people who were known for their physical beauty and hospitality. The area was also enhanced culturally with centers of learning, especially for those who pursued the priesthood, medicine, crafts, and astronomy. In addition, the land was an economical gold mine, producing abundant crops of taro, yams, banana, sweet potato and numerous fishponds adjacent to the lochs of Pu’uloa (Pearl Harbor).
The steep ridge which forms one long wall of the Kipapa Gulch serves as the foundation on which the community and school was built. This area was called the Kanoenoe Plains. The plains of Kanoenoe is west of the Gulch. Poems and songs of old recall the considerable abundance of winds of this area, blowing from Pu’uloa (Pearl Harbor) or seaward to the inlands, from mountain base (Wai’anae) to mountain base (Ko’olau) and vice versa. In modern times, the area became heavily cultivated with sugar cane fields. Earlier records also indicate that in the 1800’s, Kanoenoe was riddled with missionary endeavors, churches, settlements and schools established by missionaries.
By no mistake, the area where Mililani Uka Elementary now stands has always been held in high esteem. The love and care that the people of old held for this area are well illustrated in the name. The ‘aina or land that offered up so many blessings and the people who were noted for their gracious hospitality and love for the ‘aina are two lasting, cherished qualities of a school-community. Nestled between two prominent mountain ranges, Mililani Uka is truly the beloved place.