Board Assesses Proposal to Rename Fissure 8

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The Hawaiʻi Board of Geographic Names (HBGN) held a meeting on Oʻahu on Monday, Nov. 26, 2018, to assess a proposal to name Fissure 8 in the Big Island’s Lower East Rift Zone after an application was submitted on Friday, Oct. 19. The applicant, Mahealani Kaiwikuamoʻokekuaokalani-Henry, recommended that the fissure be named “Keahiluawalu O Pele.”

Fissure 8. PC: USGS

Henry noted the name derives from “the dream from Papa & Waikea given to Mahealani Kaiwikuamoʻokekuaokalani-Henry.”

“My ‘ohana and I have lived within this area of Puna (Pohoiki, Nanawale Estates, Opihikao, Kalama) for generations and throughout Volcano areas, too,” Henry said. “And we take a very special interest in the naming of this and all future areas. It is traditional to receive names through our ancestors, gods and goddesses.”

Nevada resident Dale Smith also submitted an application to the board to name the fissure “Puʻu Leilani.”


The board is responsible for designating the official names and spellings of geographic features in Hawai‘i. In its deliberations, the board solicits and considers the advice and recommendations of the appropriate county government officials and, as appropriate, other knowledgeable persons.

The board consists of the following persons or their representatives: the chairperson of the Board of Land and Natural resources, the chairperson of the Office of Hawaiian affairs, the chairperson of the Department of Hawaiian Homelands, the director of the Office of Planning, the president of the University of Hawaii, the State Land Surveyor and the director of the Bernice P. Bishop Museum.

During the August HBGN board meeting it was stated:

“The board is proceeding cautiously and wants to make it clear that it is not rushing to name the features—the board wants to take as much time as is needed. However, if name proposals have been developed they can be be submitted now. There’s no clock that starts once an application is received—there’s not a mandated timeframe in which a feature has to be named.

The board will make its naming decision based on the rationale attached to the proposals—“designate” in the statute means choose from among the proposed names, not necessarily to come up with the names. Some board members are concerned about HBGN’s role in this process, especially if there are multiple names proposed for the same feature with no clear consensus from the community.”


Puna resident Ikaika Marzo posted the following on Facebook:

“This has been a hot topic in our Puna community for a while. I was apart of a group which consisted of kūpuna who are deeply rooted in the areas that was heavily effected by the recent eruption. This group was given the privilege to name the fissures and the eruption. But I guess due process kicked in and the state or government changed there mind and opened up a huge door for anyone to name the fissures. I was there from day 1 to the end. Been to every fissure as it pushed through the surface. There’s a feeling there that you can’t explain. So my bottom line is, the name better be right or else he/she is gonna come back. Just my mana‘o…”

Big Island Video News posted the following from an August Hawai‘i County Council meeting, where residents testified about naming Fissure 8:

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