Kamala Anthony (Left) Manoa Johansen (Middle) Nāhōkū Kahana (Right)
Restoring our Hawaiian Ponds
-A Kaleokekoa.com exclusive report
By Lilia Auld
Our Hawaii fish ponds are natural treasures that have sustained life here in the islands since the first Native Hawaiians have been here. A local organization on the Big Island, Hui Ho’oleimaluo, has made it their mission to preserve their existence.
Hui Ho’oleimaluō is an organization that focuses on the restoration of Hawaiian fish ponds in Waiakea. They are focused on rebuilding and nourishing fish ponds through hands-on education and a place based management of natural resources. They help engage Hawaiian local students in community events and the restoration of fish ponds.
This group often holds different events including the Waiuli Ocean Festival. This is an event at Waiuli organized by Hui Ho’oleimaluō. It is an alcohol and drug free public event that focuses on including local children on maintaining their homelands. Kids engage in bodyboarding, bamboo pole fishing, swimming, and traditional makahiki games at the festival. This program is dedicated to increase the cultural practices and knowledge of the students in the community.
Since 1778, the number of fish ponds around the Hawaiian islands have been declining at a rapid rate,this is due to natural, and unnatural cases. With the moving of the tectonic plates, there has been an increase in natural disasters like earthquakes, tsunamis, and even volcanic eruptions. During the lava flows of 1801 to 1859, many fish ponds on the Kona side were destroyed. Before the decline, there were almost 500 fish ponds around the islands. Due to modernization, the lack of care given to fish ponds caused many to get overgrown and destroyed. Out of all of the 488 fish ponds, only 20 of those fish ponds have permits for restoration.
Native Hawaiians were known for their environmentally friendly views and amazing farming methods. When building a fish pond (loko i’a), due to their amazing understanding of the dynamics of the natural system, they chose places that they could alter the natural system to create an abundance in that area.Throughout the years there have been many groups whose mission was to restore these fish ponds around the islands. This includes Hui Ho’oleimaluō.
Hui Hoʻoleimaluō was founded by Kamala Anthony, Manoa Johansen, and Nāhōkū Kahana in 2014. They began by serving as an active learning curriculum-based laboratory and outdoor activities for grades 3-12. They have done community maintenance work events, and hosted the Waiuli Fest many times throughout the years. Since they have started, Hui Hoʻoleimaluō has hosted over 5,000 individuals local and abroad, from different community schools, youth groups, and universities.
These activities include learning water quality, the restoration of walls and mākāhā, fish count, measuring salinity, reintroduction of limu and fish, and the planting of a variety of Hawaiian canoe plants. Today, Hui Hoʻoleimaluō currently focuses on restoring Waiuli and Honokea in Keaukaha.