Purchase Complete – Alakoko Is Protected Forever

A Trust for Public Land perspective of Alakoko and Hulē‘ia

The Trust for Public Land and Mālama Hulē‘ia successfully purchased and placed the Alakoko Fishpond under a public trust that protects it from development in perpetuity. Mālama Hulē‘ia alongside the Kaua‘i community will continue to steward this 102 acre of cultural and environmental significance. (See complete press release here.)

Because of the great community support demonstrated for preserving Alakoko Fishpond, The Trust for Public Land and Mālama Hulē‘ia initially succeeded in the first steps of obtaining approval for use of the County of Kaua‘i’s Public Access, Open Space, & Natural Resources Preservation Fund. (See our previous post here.) Meanwhile, The Trust for Public Land also sought private philanthropic funding to protect Alakoko.

The outpouring of community support inspired Dr. Pricilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg to commit a $4 million charitable gift that provided full funding for the conservation purchase, all expenses associated with the transaction, as well as support for The Trust for Public Land and Mālama Hulē‘ia’s missions. This private gift allowed The Trust for Public Land to begin negotiations with the landowner, while preserving limited County Open Space funds for other critical conservation acquisitions.

We are at a new beginning, with great responsibility. Alakoko presents us with both a rich heritage and a complex challenge for the future.

Sara Bowen, Executive Director

“Mālama Hulē‘ia will now be able to begin the next steps in restoring the fishpond, surrounding wetlands, and wildlife habitat. Alakoko will grow as an outdoor learning environment for students to gain knowledge of the science of native ecosystems, Hawaiian culture and traditional fishpond systems. We are looking forward to continuing this work and honored to do it hand in hand with our community,” said Sara Bowen, Executive Director of Mālama Hulē‘ia. 

Jan TenBruggencate, board president, Mālama Hulē‘ia says “For more than six centuries, Kaua‘i residents have stepped up to care for this pond, to learn from it, and to draw inspiration and sustenance. In this century, it’s our turn. This is kuleana—it is our obligation and our honor. It took a village to get to this point, and we are deeply thankful to everyone who has helped us carry this tradition forward,”

Jan Tenbruggencate sharing about Alakoko from front of canoe

Peleke Flores, Mālama Hulē‘ia Director of Operations, looking at both the past and future of Alakoko Fishpond, says “This wahi pana (celebrated place) is an important part of our island’s cultural history. This is where countless generations of Kauaʻi’s people for over the past 600 years worked, played and fed our communities. We are honored to be able to continue that tradition and looking forward to one day have Alakoko feeding our community again mentally, physically, and spiritually while extending the Hā (breath of life) of this place for the next 800 years along with the future generations to come.”

Peleke Flores (center) with volunteers discussing native plants

So while purchasing this ‘āina is a critical first step, it is only the first stage in what will be a multi-generational effort to restore and continue bringing life back to Alakoko. Funding is needed to help steward Alakoko into the future to once again become a working fishpond that will feed our community. Mālama Hulē‘ia estimates a $4 million need over the next five years to steward Alakoko. Kokua in all forms and amounts will be appreciated.

Please go to www.RestoreTheFishpond.org to make a gift, volunteer, and learn more. RestoreTheFishpond.org is a joint fundraising effort by The Trust for Public Land and Mālama Hulē‘ia to raise funds toward our missions. You will be able to contribute there as in the process of uhau humu pōhaku, the Hawaiian art of weaving stones together, to form a wall similar to what will be needed in the restoration of Alakoko Fishpond.

NPS: Uhau Humu Pōhaku

~written by Steve Yee, Mālama Hulē‘ia founder and dedicated volunteer

Ka ʻAi Uahi ʻOle

By Tiele-Lauren Doudt, Nā Kama a Hāʻupu


E nā hoa heluhelu i kaukolo ʻia e ka makani Alaʻoli iā ʻAlekoko kuapapa ē, welina nō me ke aloha pumehana.
Greetings to our readers to another ʻAi Uahi ʻOle segment, where we share and highlight interesting finds from Mālama Hulēʻia’s growing collection of English and Hawaiian literary resources.
The second feature of this series arrives from James H. Kuhau Kaiwi’s original, “MOOLELO O KA LAHUI KANAKA I KAPAIA MENEHUNE, O KAUAI,” which was later translated and published in Thomas G. Thrum’s, “STORY OF THE RACE OF PEOPLE CALLED THE MENEHUNES, OF KAUAI. (A HAW33AIIAN TRADITION.),” in The Journal of the Polynesian Society, vol. 29, 2 114 (The Polynesian Society, 1920), 70–75.

At the turn of the 20th century, James H. Kuhau Kaiwi was one of a handful of authors who had preserved the moʻolelo (history, narrative) of a race of people named Menehune, who had constructed two kuapā-style fishponds meant for the royal children, ʻAlekoko and Kalālālehua. Although more research is needed for a completed biography on Kaiwi, light reference material indicates that he was from Niumalu, and held very distinguished titles throughout the Kauaʻi community. For a time, Kaiwi worked as a lawyer, and later served as a judge for the Līhuʻe district of Kauaʻi during Hawaiʻi’s Territorial Period. Towards retirement, Kaiwi became a Reverend for the Kauaʻi Branch of the Hawaiian Evangelical Association. One account by members of the Kaʻahumanu Society describes a visit to Kauaʻi in 1918, where Reverend Kaiwi blessed their meal at the Hawaiian Church of Līhuʻe; it was written that among the feast was the most decadent āholehole from ʻAlekoki [ʻAlekoko] Fishpond (Pakaalana, 1918).

As a non-profit organization, we are privileged to spend a great deal of time hosting and educating Kauaʻi’s many diverse communities. Throughout these engagements, it is of the utmost importance to be providing the most historically accurate curriculums available. The need for such curricula inspired revisitations to Thrum and Kaiwi’s work.

Inspiration behind the name “Ka ʻAi Uahi ʻOle,”
The Hawaiian language proverb from which this series is titled arrives from the ʻōlelo noʻeau, “Ola i ka ʻai uahi ʻole o ke kini o Mānā (ON #2480).” According to the beloved Mary Kawena Pukui, the families of Mānā, Kauaʻi were famed as a region that rarely engaged in making poi from kalo, a process which typically involves a significant amount of labour and generous amounts of smoke. Although some accounts of the same phrase, such as in the moʻolelo of Pele-keahialoa and Waka-keaka-ikawai, “Aloha Mānā i ka ʻai uahi ʻole,” suggest that this ʻōlelo noʻeau pertains to the bounties of ʻōpae that were found in Mānā prior to the developments of the sugar cane industry.
The delectable and famous shrimp were, according to the phrase, consumed with minimal preparation. ʻAi uahi ʻole – food without the labors of creating smoke. In the same way we hope to provide historical resources and information for our readers to readily enjoy.

Pakaalana, “KA HOOMANAO PIHA MAKAHIKI O KE KU ANA O KA AHAHUI KAAHUMANU, MA KA MOKUPUNI O KAUAI O MANOKALANIPO.,” Ka Nupepa Kuokoa LVI, no. 1 (January 4, 1918).

For a pdf file of the original, click on the following link:

For a pdf file of the transcription click on the following link:

The Alakoko Fishpond Wall

Have you ever wondered about how the Alakoko fishpond wall could have been constructed? Well, we have too. So Jan Tenbruggencate has compiled everything known about the wall in a wonderful article entitled “At Loko Alakoko, What’s Under The Wall?”

The article is published here and can also be accessed from our main menu under About Huleia and Alakoko.

Open Space Commission Supports Alakoko – Mahalo to All

Mahalo to all who signed our petition or gave testimony! And mahalo to the Open Space Commission for unanimously voting to support acquisition of Alakoko for its perpetual protection!

Over 4,000 of you signed our statement of support online. Hundreds of you shared your aloha for Alakoko through heartfelt letters and written testimonies. Several of you shared old memories of looking out from the scenic viewpoint at the overgrown pond, with a vision, longing for the day that community would have the opportunity to mālama Alakoko, to heal her, and be healed by her. It’s because of our shared vision, and your hands that have come together to live your kuleana, that we are here today! Mahalo!

In its teleconference meeting yesterday (February 11, 2021), the Kauai Open Space Commission voted unanimously to support the acquisition of Alakoko for its protection by Mālama Hulē‘ia and The Trust for Public Land. All nine members of the Commission voted to recommend to the Kauai County Council that the Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Preservation Fund be used in the purchase of Alakoko.

The County Council will review and act on this recommendation in an upcoming meeting. Stay tuned for updates on how to support our presentation to the County Council.

All of the written testimony can be viewed on the Kauai.gov website. Here is a link to our written presentation to the Open Space Commission: https://www.kauai.gov/Portals/0/Planning/openspace_comm_agendas/2021-2-11OpenSpaceCommissionPacket.pdf?ver=2021-02-04-130155-740 .

Supporting testimony included voices of students in the Hawaiian language:

We Need Your Support Now!

On Thursday, February 11, 2021, the County Public Access Open Spaces & Natural Resources Preservation Commission will decide whether to renew their recommendation for funding of the Alakoko Fishpond. To help protect Alakoko Fishpond, PLEASE SUBMIT WRITTEN TESTIMONY by email to openspace@kauai.gov by 9:00 AM, Wednesday, February 10, 2021.

Here’s a sample of the testimony you could send:

Please keep in mind the progress that Mālama Hulē‘ia has made in preserving the Alakoko Fishpond. Your help now can ensure that this work continues for many more years.

Email your supporting testimony to openspace@kauai.gov. Mahalo.

Alakoko Fishpond Has Been Listed For Sale

The current landowners 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.

Expanding Place Base Education…Virtually

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!!!

List of Education Participants

Journey of a Name

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.

Mahina Rhythms

Moon Phase Mosaic by Kat Ho

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.

Welcoming Our New Team Members

Our team is expanding thanks to county funding and our non-profit partnerships. We are excited to welcome our most recent hires through the following programs:

Aloha Aina Workforce Crew: Jason Makaneole, Dane DeMello, Kaniho Giminiz, Hunter Rice-Hudson
Llewellen Woodward, Kupu Member
Christopher Kaiakapu, Native Plant Nursery Manager
Tiele Doudt, Huliauapa’a AmeriCorps Member
Haylin Chock, Huliauapa’a AmeriCorps Member