Lāʻie is a shoreline town located in the Ko’olauloa District on the island of Oahu, north of Hau’ula and south of Kahuku along the Kamehameha Highway. Land area is just over 2 square miles in size, small, but with a prideful tight-knit community of around 6,200 people. Today many of its residents’ trace their lineages not only from Hawai’i, but various Pacific Island countries such as Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, and Aotearoa.
The name Lāʻie is said to derive from two Hawaiian words: lau meaning “leaf”, and ie referring to the ʻieʻie, a red-spiked climbing screwpine pandanus plant endemic to the Pacific Islands. The ʻieʻie wreaths forest trees of mauka regions (or uplands) on the Koʻolau Range mountains overlooking the community of Lāʻie. In Hawaiian mythology, the ʻieʻie is sacred to Kane, god of the earth, god of life, and god of the forests, as well as to Laka, the patron goddess of the hula.
Historically, Lāʻie was a puʻuhonua, a city of refuge where fugitives could find sanctuary. There were two traditional heiau or Hawaiian temples in Lāʻie, of which very little remains today. The Mo’ohekili heiau was destroyed, but its remains can be found in taro patches makai (towards the sea) of today’s LDS temple. Remains of the Nioi heiau can be found on a small ridge mauka (towards the mountain) of town.
Lāʻie is one of the best known communities of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the site of the Lāʻie Hawaii Temple, the fifth oldest operating Mormon temple in the world. Brigham Young University–Hawaii is located in Lāʻie. The Polynesian Cultural Center, the Hawaiian Islands multi-Pacific cultured and largest living museum draws millions of visitors annually.
“The Hukilau Song“, written, composed and originally recorded by Jack Owens, made famous by Alfred Apaka, and recorded by countless other musicians was inspired in the late 1940s from fundraisers and feasts on beaches in Lāʻie.
Lāʻie is sometimes called or referred to as Lāʻia, pronounced with “a” instead of “e”.