Restoring a Native Hawaiian Fishpond
Teaching the community how to mālama (care for) the ocean as the ancient Hawaiians did may be one of the most important lessons that the sanctuary could relay. To do this, the sanctuary partners with the non-profit organization ʻAoʻao O Nā Loko Iʻa O Maui (Association of the Fishponds of Maui) which is working to protect and restore an ancient fishpond in order to educate the public about traditional Native Hawaiian values, practices and traditions.
The historical fishpond, named Kōʻieʻie Loko Iʻa, fronts the Sanctuary property on Maui and provides a natural classroom for educational efforts. The three-acre pond is one of the last remaining intact traditional fish ponds along the South Maui coastline. A major restoration of the ancient Hawaiian fishpond by ʻAoʻao O Nā Loko Iʻa O Maui, is currently taking place. Stone by stone, the fishpond association workers and volunteers are rebuilding the wall by hand utilizing traditional methods.
This restoration project has piqued the interest of many people in the community including the Pacific American Foundation; a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of Pacific Americans such as Native Hawaiians. The Foundation is managing Project Kāhea Loko, which develops curriculum for Hawai‘i’s Department of Education. This curriculum, geared for grades 4-12, uses fishponds as a learning model in social studies, science, language, and art classes. In 2001, Kōʻieʻie Loko Iʻa was chosen as the Maui field site by Pacific American Foundation for further development and utilization of Kāhea Loko’s curriculum. This extraordinary partnership between the Sanctuary, Pacific American Foundation and ʻAoʻao O Nā Loko Iʻa O Maui provides a wonderful opportunity for young adults to learn about the legacy of Hawaiʻi's cultural treasures.