It’s not a joke, an online dating site actually offered an Oahu city $12 million to change its name to, USA.

The names of the Waianae Boat Harbor and Waianae Community Center would have been changed with the website’s name for 10 years. The deal would’ve also included one of the main streets of this West side community and any respective government buildings.

Thankfully, community legislators denied the offer – making Waianae the fourth city to turn down the “sweet deal,” or at least that’s what thinks. Other cities that weren’t quite wooed by the dating site included Woodside, Calif., Sugar Land, Tx. and Sugar Hill, GA. All prospective cities have ties to the sugar industry. Waianae played a major role in Hawaii’s sugar boom.

The dating website’s offer is more than presumptuous; it’s an insult to the Hawaiian culture and people of Hawaii. As in other cultures, names express varying levels of meaning. They can be given to honor moolelo (stories), historic events, ancestors and features of the land.

Waianae has a history deeply rooted within the culture. The community is believed to be one of the first areas of ancient civilization more than 2,000 years ago. Its name means “waters of the striped mullet” and comes from the mullet’s annual migration around the island and their return to Waianae to mature and spawn. The mullet also “symbolized a spiritual rebirth of the ocean, land and its people,” according to the community’s website.

To change its name would be like changing the significance of our island’s history. More so, it would be a disgrace to our ancestors who set the foundations of a culture, a place and a people. I’m glad our legislators felt the same way and refused this distasteful offer by a website promoting false hope and relations among today’s society. It has no doubt spoke volumes for how much we value our names in the islands and will not be tempted through such bribery.

Sources: Place Names of Hawaii by Mary Kawena Pukui, Samuel H. Elbert and Esther T. Mookini; “Waianae Ecological Characterization” Hawaii state website


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