From May 17-20th, Waiaʻōpae loko iʻa will host about 70 fishpond practitioners from across Hawai‘i for the annual Hui Mālama Loko Iʻa gathering. Hui Mālama Loko Iʻa is a collective of fishpond practitioners whose goal is to promote ‘āina momona (fertile, healthy land) through loko iʻa culture. On May 18th and 19th (Friday and Saturday) work on the kuapā will be conducted in the mornings during low tide. On Saturday in particular, we hope to host a large community stewardship day so that community members can get the chance to learn from fishpond experts. This gathering will be a great opportunity for our community to gain valuable ʻike (knowledge) about how to care for our rich cultural and natural resources. It is the time for all of us, as a community, to hana ka lima (work with the hands) and create a better, more sustainable future for Lānaʻi.
Waiaʻōpae loko lies on the east side of Lānaʻi and is one of four or five loko i‘a (fishponds) known to have been built on island in ancient times.. Approximately 9 acres in size, Waiaʻōpae once served as a sustainable food source for native Hawaiians on Lāna‘i. The Lānaʻi Culture & Heritage Center (Lānaʻi CHC) envisions Waiaʻōpae being able to provide food for our community once again. Along with support from Pūlama Lānaʻi, NOAA B-WET, and the Hawaii Community Foundation, Lānaʻi CHC has been conducting restoration on the fishpond and providing educational outreach at the site since 2015.
About 200 feet of the kuapā (fishpond wall) have been rebuilt, and we hope to complete another 150 linear feet in the next year and a half. Shoreline restoration work, which includes thinning the invasive kiawe trees and reintroducing native coastal plants into the area, has been ongoing. Over the past few years, hundreds of community members, visitors, and students have aided in restoration efforts and have learned about loko iʻa and their role in a healthy ahupuaʻa (traditional land division) system. Waiaʻōpae serves as a reminder of Lānaʻi’s rich cultural history and the innovation of native residents. Continued restoration of the loko iʻa promotes Lānaʻi CHC’s vision to honor the past and enrich the future.