Haleiwa, HI—If you drove past the Haleiwa Bridge a few years ago you may not have noticed the fish pond mauka of Kamehameha Highway. Hidden behind overgrown California grass and shrubs along the road, the Loko Ea fishpond, one of two ponds in the Waialua area, is being revived to its native use. Through a partnership between Malama Loko Ea Foundation and ALU LIKE, Inc., the Loko Ea Fishpond is on track to restoration and conservation per a request from the Waialua/Haleiwa community. With partial funding from the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority’s Natural Resources Program, administered by the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, the vision of restoring this ancient fish pond for historical learning and community is underway.
The project, an initiative of land owner, Kamehameha Schools, aims to bring community knowledge and rehabilitation to the local landmark as a part of their North Shore Plan. Although there is much historical documentation of the ancient pond in archives, the Malama Loko Ea Foundation team is always looking for cultural practitioners or community members that may have personal knowledge or experience at Loko Ea pond or with other fish ponds.
For now, uncovering the fishpond hidden under thick California grass is the first challenge to overcome. In the last few years, removal of the overgrown invasive species revealed sections of the large pond which once harvested native species of fish for this north shore community. The project uses community volunteer days to educate visitors and residents on the history and function of the Hawaiian fishpond as well as to bring man-power to aid in the massive clearing of overgrown foliage. Kimi Apiki, of ALU LIKE, Inc. (fiscal sponsor to Malama Loko Ea Foundation) praised the outpouring of aid that comes through these volunteer opportunities. “Our project leadership has dedicated invaluable hours of volunteer time and resources that have helped us leverage a lot of funding. We are developing a future of conservation and historical preservation through understanding how to build capacity in all ways. It has been great to have this grant opportunity to grow this project,” said Apiki.
The Malama Loko Ea project plans next to introduce native plants that will not only compliment the pond’s health and inhabitants but also be relevant to the region of Waialua. Community work days and invasive fish removal events are on-going and available for small groups interested in donating time and resources. If you would like to volunteer at the Loko Ea fish pond or would like to share your knowledge of permitting, landscaping, graphic or web design, please contact Jessica, of Malama Loko Ea, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CNHA is a national network of Native Hawaiian Organizations, providing assistance in accessing capital and technical resources, and is a policy voice on issues important to Native Hawaiian communities. Its mission is to enhance the well-being of Hawaii through the cultural, economic, political, and community development of Native Hawaiians.