The word ʻewa means "crooked" or "ill-fitting" in Hawaiian, The name comes from the myth that the gods Kāne and Kanaloa threw a stone to determine the boundaries, but it was lost and later found at Pili o Kahe. Hawaiian settlement on the ʻEwa Plain dates back at least to the 12th Century C.E., at which time Kanaka maoli expanded the main channel of Puʻuloa (Pearl Harbor) before creating fishponds and terraced agricultural fields in the surrounding area. Scholars have recognized ʻEwa's ancient fishponds as exemplary evidence of Native Hawaiian ingenuity.
Before Ewa Beach became a town it was first a huge plantation farm. With 11,000 acres of land sublet by Benjamin Dillingham, W.R. Lowrie became the first plantation manager in 1891, when Hawaiʻi was under the rule of Queen Liliʻuokalani. Ewa Beach is significant for its association with Ewa Sugar Plantation. Throughout the twentieth century, it played a very influential role in Hawaii's culture, economy, and politics.
Along much of the South Shore of Oʻahu, ʻEwa is a reference to the direction of ʻEwa Beach, roughly westwards along the shore. Related terms are "mauka" (towards the mountains, roughly northwards), "makai" (towards the ocean, roughly South), and Diamond Head or Koko Head, roughly eastwards along the shore.
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