The current landownerʻs have decided to put the fishpond on the market and Mālama Hulē‘ia and The Trust for Public Land’s are working on an initiative to raise public and private funding for the conservation purchase, to forever protect Alakoko Fishpond for future generations.
We will be seeking community support in a variety of ways please check back here and on our Instagram and Facebook pages for updates. To start with you can show your support for TPL and Mālama Hulē‘ia by signing this online petition.
Volunteering at Malama Huleia is more than just a site visit and being a helping hand – it is an educational experience of a Hawaiian cultural design that is relevant to this day. At every point there is something to learn about native species, natural systems and our kuleana to restore what was once a sustainable ecosystem. As keepers of this site, we have taken the responsibility of sharing our knowledge to encourage the curiosity and learning process. Our hope is to inspire future stewardship of the land that we are restoring.
Place-based education is a core principle for our organization and the last few years we have expanded our educational partnerships through hosting schools and organizations onsite. Alakoko has a unique opportunity to provide an outdoor classroom experience that enhances learning and understanding which leads to appreciation of our natural resources creating future stewards of the land.
In March, due to COVID, we had to pause site visits and community work days limiting our ability to provide the community education that we are so passionate about. In the same way we approach restoration – adapting to overcome challenges – we began to explore how we could still deliver an educational experience through virtual channels. With the support of DOE OHE, we curated a virtual huaka’i (field trip) experience to share the valuable education that is available from our site and launched the video on youtube.
This video became the starting point of developing further curriculum to support schools and continue eco-cultural education in the schools. As an Aloha AIna partner with Kamehameha Schools, we are continuing to expand our educational resources through custom created curriculum that is based on the 6 topics outline in our initial video:
Aloha & Ho’omakaukau | Intro & Basic Protocol
Ka Wa Kahiko | Brief History
Loko i’a | Fishponds
Mea Kanu | Plants
Na Manu | Birds
He Laulima Mai | Moving Forward
The interactive education modules will deliver an online experience that will be accessible to educators and community members. This online presence will expand opportunities to educate while COVID limits visits but will also be an excellent resource for preparation and learning once site visits resume.
This effort is part of an ongoing strategy that both Malama Huleia and Kamehameha School believe in: to deliver culture- and place-based education that fosters kinship and kuleana between kanaka and ‘āina. This pilot program will build a framework that will bridge resource management and education, inviting participants to actively engage in Hawaiian culture and history, instilling a sense of pride in their heritage and connecting them to communities in meaningful ways.
Stay tuned for upcoming releases and we hope to see you onsite again soon!!!
By Jan TenBruggencate Member, Mālama Hulē‘ia Board of Directors
Malama Huleia refers to this ancient Hawaiian fishpond by the name Alakoko, the spelling most commonly used in the earliest references from the 1800s.
But this historic site has had many names,
Most people today call it the Menehune Fishpond and many folks use the name ‘Alekoko. However, Hawaiian Land Court records and Hawaiian language newspapers dating to the 1800s, in the earliest references, mainly use the spelling Alakoko.
An 1852 Land Court document about lands in Niumalu, by surveyor W.H. Pease, refers to ka loko o Alakoko (the Alakoko fishpond).
Issues of the newspapers Ka Leo o Ka Lahui and Nupepa Ka Oiaio from 1895 use Alakoko. In his 1923 book, Hawaiian Legends, William Hyde Rice, who was born on Kaua‘i in 1846, uses Alakoko. In her book Koamalu, Ethel Damon, who was born in 1883, uses Alakoko.
The alternate spelling Alekoko, without the addition of the diacritical `okino before the first letter, is seen, though rarely, before 1900. Not the first, but among the first to use the spelling Alekoko was Thomas Thrum, who was not Hawaiian-born and not from Kaua‘i, in a 1920 edition of the Journal of the Polynesian Society. The term with the Alekoko spelling appears in a story he wrote involving Menehune.
Thrum, originally Australian, was a storyteller and publisher, and a powerful voice in the recording of Hawaiian stories—including a fair amount of bogus Hawaiian history. After Thrum’s use of the spelling, Alekoko becomes an alternate spelling to Alakoko.
The big fishpond in the bend in the river has also gone by the names Pēpē‘awa and even Niumalu loko.
Pēpē‘awa, while it sometimes has been used to refer to the pond, is apparently the name of the land division in which it is found—the ili, which is the term for the subdivisions of an ahupua‘a.
Niumalu loko may simply be a term of reference rather than a valid name. It means “Niumalu pond” and may be used to refer to Alakoko in the way “City by the bay” refers to San Francisco.
The term Menehune Fishpond, which has gained popularity during the past century, is a reference to a complex story about either the entire construction or just the completion of the fishpond wall project by mythical Hawaiian forest dwellers.
If you’re interested in more about that, I humbly recommend my book on the subject, Menehune Mystery: The Original Tales and the Origins of the Myth, published by Mutual Publishing in Honolulu.
Malama Huleia is consciously integrating a kilo practice along with our restoration efforts. To kilo is to observe your environment which is specific to place and unique to each individual. The moon cycle influences the tides and movement of water through gravitational pull affecting ecosystems and our restoration work. The long tradition by our ancestors of observing the moon has resulted in knowledge of timing for optimal fishing and farming practices. Below is a brief overview of a few of the moons in this upcoming season.
New Moon/First moon – (Muku, Hilo)
October 16th 9:31am :: November 14th 7:07pm :: December 14th 6:16am
The Muku moon is the 30th moon, the end of the moon cycle. It is when the moon is in front of the sun; the backside is lit and the front side facing earth is dark. The first moon is a faint feather of light; key concept – “ilo” to germinate/sprout. Good time for planting seeds (not tubers or bananas). Great for beach and reef fishing, observing extreme high and low tides. A good for setting or re-setting personal goals and intentions.
First Quarter Moon – `Ole (`Olekūkahi, ʻOlekūlua, `Olekūkolu, `Olepau)
October 23rd 3:22am :: November 21st 6:45pm :: December 21st 1:41pm
There are four ‘Ole moons in the first quarter of the moon cycle; the seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth moons with the Olekūlua being the quarter moon. `Ole can describe – pausing, ceasing, peeling back or removing. It is generally an unproductive time but can be used to prune, mulch and weed. Not good for fishing. A good time to take action toward our goals.
Full Moon – Piha moons (Akua, Hoku, Māhealani)
October 31st 4:49am :: November 29th 11:29pm :: December 29th 5:28pm
There are three Piha moons; the fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth moons moon. A form of the word hōkū, star. When mahina is Hoku, she travels through the night from beginning to end (as do the stars). Excellent time for planting (except for kalo and bananas), seeds will be animated. Good for fishing at sea but not at shore. Watch for high waves. Time of culmination and celebration of efforts made toward our new moon intentions.
Third Quarter Moon – `Ole (`Olekūhahi, `Olekūlua, `Olepau)
October 9th 9:31am :: November 8th 3:46am :: December 7th 2:36pm
October 9th 9:31am :: November 8th 3:46am :: December 7th 2:36pmThere are three `Ole moons in the third quarter moon cycle; the twenty-first, twenty-second, and twenty-third moons with the ʻOlekūlua being the quarter moon. Not a good day for planting or fishing during the ʻOle moons. A good time to rest, refine and reflect – let go of anything that is not aligning with the goals and intentions set at the new moon.
If you see something burning down at the fishpond – it’s us! We are starting to do controlled burning of select mangrove piles in select areas. Burning mangrove is a standard method used in mangrove removal and is covered by Department of Health Clean Air Branch Approval (letter). We are in contact with the Kauai Fire Department before starting to burn each day. Burn hours are between 9am and 6pm.
Below are some commonly asked questions regarding this burning activity. If you have questions or concerns that are not addressed, please email email@example.com or call (808) 652-5210:
Q. Why are you burning mangrove waste?
Once mangrove is cut, it has to be removed from the wetland/pond area for regulatory reasons. Malama Hule`ia has determined that burning is the most appropriate means of disposal for small amounts of mangrove biomass at specific isolated locations. This decision was reached after extensive research that included reviewing options such as land-filling, burial in wet sediment at the site (creating peatlands), composting, mulching and delivery to a biomass-to-energy facility.
Q. What factors did you consider?
Please see our research paper titled “Fate of carbon and greenhouse impacts in a mangrove-infested wetland”. We are using a combination of mulch/composting and burning. We selected the most appropriate action for specific areas based on a number of factors, including access, greenhouse gas emissions, impacts on important historical sites, time and other environmental factors.
Q. What are the characteristics of burn sites?
These isolated piles of wood are distant from suitable removal sites, inaccessible to heavy equipment or raise the risk of fuel, hydraulic oil and lubricating oil spills. Furthermore, the piles are near a historically significant archaeological feature (the 600-year-old Alakoko Fishpond wall) and extensive traffic could negatively impact the feature. Burning appears to present the least likelihood of damage to the site.
Q. What will be done with the ash?
Ash from the burned mangrove will be collected and mixed into mulch and compost at a location away from the pond and pond wall.
Q. What other methods are being used?
We are grinding and mulching most of the woody material after cutting mangrove and removing it from the pond/wetland area. Burning is being deployed only in specific small areas where hauling the material is not feasible.
Q. Do you have permits for burning?
We have a permit from the State Department of Health Clean Air Branch, which allows us to burn between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. See approval letter here.
Q. Is the Fire Department aware of this activity and what about smoke?
The Fire Department will be notified each day burning is scheduled to take place. Burning will only be done on days when smoke is unlikely to affect neighbors. The burning will be conducted to promote high heat and to minimize smoke production.
Nearly 40 community members planted out dozens of native coastal plants Saturday , October 26, 2019, at the Alakoko Fishpond.
The workday, the one-year anniversary of Malama Hule`iaʻs first workday at the pond, culminated with the opening of an imu and an impressive luau spread. The imu had been started along the fishpond at 9 p.m. Friday and was opened at 11:30 am. Saturday.
Steamed breadfruit and pans of pork other goodies came out beautifully cooked.
Before the feast, teams of volunteers prepared the native weaving sedge makaloa and other potted coastal plants for out-planting onto the shores of the pond, where mangrove had been removed. Little by little, the exposed mudflats are turning green.
The work was accompanied by the calls of nearly a dozen native Hawaiian stilts, aʻeo, and a trio of Hawaiian ducks, koloa, and other wildlife that has repopulated the waterʻs edge now that mangrove has been removed.
Mālama Hulē‘ia hosted the Hawaii Tourism Authority and their film crew for the interview of cultural practitioner and MH Board Director Sabra Kauka on “travel pono.” The interview was part of a campaign aimed at teaching tourist what to or not to do while visiting the Hawaiian islands. Using the Alakoko Fishpond as an culturally important place, Sabra chanted and spoke of the practice of asking permission before entering such a place. Sabra explained that it’s tradition to ask permission to enter a space rather than just barging in. “It really is wise to do so,” she said. “Because you’re not assuming. You’re asking to be invited in.”