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.”
On August 24, 2019, nearly 200 Kaua‘i High School athletes spent their Saturday morning getting muddy and helping restore the 600-year-old Alakoko Fishpond.
They pulled out invasive mangrove seedlings, planted native species and cleared new planting areas. While caring for the fishpond, they also learned something about the history of the region.
They are the latest of hundreds more Kaua‘i residents and visitors, who come each month for community work days aimed at helping bring back to life the ancient pond and the adjacent Hulē‘ia River.
The work is a program of the non-profit Mālama Hulē‘a, whose goal is to remove some 70 acres of invasive mangrove from two miles of the Hulē‘ia River system on Kaua‘i.
The Alakoko Fishpond, also known as the Menehune Fishpond, was built in the late 1300s or early 1400s. It is one of Kaua‘iʻs oldest surviving archaeological features. A rock-faced wall separates the pond from the river.
Until last year, both the wall and much of the pond were densely overgrown with invasive red mangrove trees. Mangrove was introduced to the islands for erosion control nearly a century ago, but has now displaced hundreds of acres of native coastal lands. There are now community efforts to clear mangrove from coastal areas on several Hawaiian islands.
In 2013, Mālama Hulē‘ia launched with a mission to remove the mangrove from the Hulē‘ia. Its first effort was to clear more than two acres of dense mangrove along Puali Stream, fronting Niumalu Park. The group moved last year to the fishpond. So far, half the pond margins have been cleared, and the cleared areas are being replanted in native coastal and wetland species.
The Kaua‘i High School athletes, members of the football, volleyball, bowling and other teams, along with some of their teachers and parents, planted the four native species that seem to be growing best along the pond shores. They are ‘ae‘ae, makaloa, ahu‘awa and ‘akulikuli.
Community Workdays are under the guidance of Mālama Hulē‘ia executive director Sara Bowen and operations manager Peleke Flores, along with several of the groupʻs board members and veteran volunteers. The workdays are held on the 4th Saturday of every month, 8 am – 12 noon. Lunch is provided. Check with firstname.lastname@example.org for other activities and dates.
A team of science teachers and technical experts met with Mālama Hulēʻia at Alakoko Fishpond Thursday (June 20, 2019) to look into sensor technology for better monitoring and managing the pond.
The session at the pond, and later in a laboratory, was arranged through Purple Maiʻa, a nonprofit organization bringing technology and place-based learning together to teachers.
The team of science and computer teachers from several Kauaʻi schools, alongside Purple Maiʻa’s team, worked with University of Hawaii oceanography professor Brian Glazer and Peleke Flores and Sara Bowen from Mālama Hulēʻia.
They are working on developing technology for studying water movement, temperature, salinity and other features of the nearly 600-year-old pond along the Hulē`ia river.
More on Glazer’s work at his home page: https://www.soest.hawaii.edu/oceanography/glazer/Brian_T._Glazer/Home.html
More on Purple Maiʻa at its website: https://purplemaia.org/
This is Malia Chun’s report of the second of a series of Kupulau camps being held at Alakoko Fishpond.
On March 9-10th, Nā Pau Noʻeau students conducted their third Kupulau Camp in partnership with Mālama Hulēʻia, The Surfrider Foundation and Kaiola Canoe Club. During this 2-day, residential camp, students from the moku of Puna participated in a variety of STEM activities. These activities include; water quality testing, recording the topography of the perimeter of Alakoko Fishpond, conducting cultural protocol at the base of Hāʻupu, zip lining with Outfitterʻs Kauaʻi and helping to prepare an imu for the amazing crew of volunteers and board members of Mālama Hulēʻia. In the next few months students will continue to collected valuable data that will help in future revitalization efforts of Alakoko and Hulēʻia and will continue to gain a deeper knowledge and respect for the history of the ahupuaʻa of Haʻikū. Mahalo nui to all of our partners for providing cultural enrichment opportunities for our ʻōpio of Kauaʻi.
From the beginning, Mālama Hulē‘ia has been supported by hundreds of volunteers from the Kauai community. This help from volunteers is the basis of our success and what allows us to aim ambitiously at eliminating invasive mangrove from the whole Hulē‘ia watershed, as we have done at the Pū‘ali wetland and are now working on at the Alakoko fishpond. Perhaps one reason for such community support is the high value that the people of Kaua‘i place on natural beauty and cultural significance.
Continuing help has come mainly from our local community. We have had occasional help from traveling volunteers and those who are part of state-wide organizations. Recently, a crew of volunteer heavy equipment operators (“the machine crew”) worked full time for about two months, starting on January 14. They were not Kaua‘i residents but individuals who live in the Pacific Northwest. Nevertheless, they came to understand and embrace the mission of Mālama Hulē‘ia, as well as the culture and values of the Kaua`i community. And so they have committed their skills and time to the Alakoko project.
Bryan Valett, long time friend of Sara Bowen, Mālama Hulē‘ia Executive Director, learned of the Alakoko project while visiting and offered to volunteer his time during the mainland winter season when his work is usually down. He also hand picked a crew of highly skilled equipment operators. The crew, in addition to Bryan, consisted of Chuck Hayes, Howard Fox, Skylar Smith, Georges Parks and Brock Struthers. They all volunteered as individuals, independently of their work/company. Their Washington State-based firm, Strider Construction, permitted the equipment operators to help Mālama Hulē‘ia during the mainland off-season months. Bryan Valett also has relationships with a couple of environmental consulting firms that have also sent staff to assist.
What the machine crew achieved probably seemed pretty routine to them. But from the perspective of Mālama Hulē‘ia ’s past, their work was nothing less than heroic. In the course of their volunteering on Kauai, they have cleared more than 6.5 acres of mangrove from around the Alakoko fishpond. If we had to work those acres as we have at Pū‘ali, it would likely take us over 6 years to accomplish as much.
Of course the big excavators made a huge difference. But the dedicated and continuous volunteer time given has also been a big contributor to this quick success.
So we owe this team of heroes a huge mahalo! And as much as we appreciate their volunteering, they told us they were appreciative of the experience they had being immersed in the cultural significance of the work they did for the fishpond and community here. It was fitting that their stay ended with a Hawaiian style celebration staged for them by Mālama Hulē‘ia on the grounds of Alakoko.
Please join us in working in the wetlands area surrounding the Alakoko fishpond. We’ve cleared 6+ acres of mangrove over this last month and need help prepping for and planting natives.
- Tabis or covered shoes to wear in the mud
- Work gloves
- Water bottle
- Sun protection (hat, shades, sunscreen)
Alakoko Fishpond driveway at 2342 Hulemalu Road – Please drive SLOWLY!
Monthly Community Workday’s at Alakoko will be held on 4th the Saturday of each month. Mark your calendar – we’d love to have you join us!
Lunch is provided so please let us know if you will be joining us by email to email@example.com or signing up on our Facebook Event.
Kauai High School student Isabella Parsons won first place at the Kauai
regional Science and Engineering Fair for her project “Investigating the Effects of the Removal of Red Mangrove Trees on the Ecosystem of Kauai” She worked on this project at Alakoko fishpond with the support of Malama Huleia staff Paleke Flores and Sara Bowen, and the scientific mentoring of Dr. Carl Berg, Malama Huleia BOD.
Her own water quality sampling was done at three sites in Alakoko fishpond and one at Puali wetland over a two month period, which coincided with the beginning of mangrove removal from around the edges of Alakoko. She compared her data with the monthly water quality data Malama Huleia has collected for the past 20 months. She then correlated it with Malama Huleia’s data on acres of mangrove removed during her sampling period.
As first place winner in the Senior Division, Isabella will go on to the State fair on Oahu and the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix, Arizona this spring. In addition to winning top Senior Division project, Isabella also won in Plant Sciences, Senior Division, and awards from Surfrider Foundation, NTGB and NOAA.
According to Dr. Carl Berg, Isabella collected lots of data, did lots of analysis and lots of parsing to get to her general conclusions. He will continue to work with Isabella to try to improve her conclusions for the state-wide competition and the fair in Phoenix.
Photos by Bryce Johnson
These aerial photos show the recent progress made in clearing red mangrove from around the Alakoko Fishpond.
Text and photos by Malia Chun
For the next 5 months, ʻōpio from the moku of Puna will be taking part in a once a month, residential program where they will be engaged in Hawaiian cultural enrichment and STEAM hands-on, educational activities. Some of these activities include; learning the historical and archaeological significance of Alakoko, Hūleʻia and surrounding ahupuaʻa, water quality testing, mapping the geography and topography of Alakoko, learning fishpond dynamics and maintenance, mālama ʻāina: eradicating invasive and planting natives and learning about the importance maintaining a healthy and productive mauka to makai aquifer. If you have a teenager that is interested in registering for this amazing learning opportunity, contact NPN at 808-245-8287.
Pictures from the first Kupulau Camp, Jan 19-20:
Our machine crew, led by Bryan Vallet, is doing quick work in taking down the mangrove around Alakoko Fishpond. Today the excavator operated by Georges Parks broke through to the pond. This is a milestone accomplishment.
Other members of our machine crew are Skylar Smith, Brock Struthers, Howard Fox, and Chuck Hayes.
Meanwhile, the Menehune are nearing the first break in the wall of the fishpond, where there is also a break in the mangrove. They expect to reach the water there in one or two more workdays.
We have a community work day this Saturday, January 26, 2019. Come and help us clear the invasive red mangrove from the historical Alakoko Fishpond. Come prepared for sun and mud, and lots of aloha.