He’eia Fish Pond — Huaka’i ‘Āina Ho’oilina (8/10)

He’eia Fish Pond — Huaka’i ‘Āina Ho’oilina (8/10)


[music] [Keahi Tucker:]
An integral part of the
ahupua‘a was the ocean, and the Hawaiians devised an ingenious
way to manage it. The fish pond was an
engineering marvel that allowed those Hawaiians
to catch and grow their fish in a sustainable way. In the past, there were hundreds of fish
ponds across the islands. Today, there are still a few, thanks to the hard work
and dedication of groups such as
Paepae O He‘eia. [drums] Located on the western
side of Kāneohe Bay, He‘eia Fish Pond was
one of many fish ponds built around the
island of O‘ahu. Thought to be over
600 years old, this 88-acre body of water
was constructed by the residents of
the He‘eia ahupua‘a, and at its peak fed thousands
of people in the area. Fish ponds were usually built near a fresh water source that had high
fish productivity and an abundance
of juvenile fish. Another necessity was
an enclosable area. For the He‘eia Fish Pond, that includes a man-made
wall nearly 1½ miles long. With knowledge of moon
phases and tidal fluxes, Hawaiians knew
the lowest tide would produce the most
outflow from the pond. That water vented
into the ocean through a few narrow
gated outlets. This rush of water
and nutrients attracted young, juvenile fish
from the ocean into the pond. The fish would then
discover an abundance of naturally occurring food—
so they stayed, ate and grew. The pond was harvested
during a high rising tide when the ocean water flowed
at its maximum strength back into the pond. The mature fish would smell,
taste—even feel—the ocean and were attracted to it. As they swam toward the
outlet, they had now grown and could not escape
through the gate, and were easily netted. [music] The mission of
Paepae O He‘eia is to restore the fish pond
to its original functionality. For the past few years, they’ve been diligently
working toward this goal which, first and foremost, includes repairing hundreds
of feet of damaged wall. Hi‘ilei Kawelo is the Executive
Director of Paepae O He‘eia. Her tasks, like all the other
members of the organization, include everything
from catching fish to fixing walls,
and it’s all done with the intention of
perpetuating a culture. [Hi‘ilei Kawelo:]
As a Hawaiian, if I don’t
have these places to go to, if I don’t have this fish
pond to come to every day, I am that much
less of a Hawaiian. I feel that I would
be at a loss and I feel that the future
generations of Hawai‘i would be at a loss. [music] [Keahi Tucker:]
It must have taken years for the original builders
of this fish pond to finish this project. It’s believed that many of
these rocks were hand passed, man to man, stone by stone from as far as 2 miles away.
[stones falling] Hi‘ilei and her group
are using as many of the original building materials
as possible as they recreate, by hand, what had been a prominent part of the
ahupua‘a for centuries. [Hi‘ilei Kawelo:]
Traditionally, when
this fish pond was built 600 years ago, it was based on a need: it was based on survival. If you didn’t build
this fish pond and take 2 years
to pass rock, you wouldn’t have a place
to grow your fish, and you wouldn’t have
fish to feed your family. [Keahi Tucker:]
The work that’s been
done so far is amazing, but there’s still
a long way to go. This portion of the wall was blown out by a
huge storm in the 1960’s, and as Hi‘ilei and her crew work their way
toward this area, they know that in
a year or so, the entire wall
will be intact, and they’ll be able to spend
more time with their fish— which at the moment,
need to be harvested. [music] [fish flapping] [man:]
Whoa! There you go. Keli‘i Kotubetey is in charge
of the fish harvest today. Until the wall is finished, the Moi being raised
are kept in pens. Their goal is to catch
around 650 pounds of Moi which have already
been pre-sold. Each fish has been growing
from 9 to 12 months, and will be in the
¾ to 1 pound range. All they have to do is get them from
the pen to the boat. [music] [Keli‘i Kotubetey:]
Being a part of the harvest
really pulls everybody together because they’re not only
getting to handle the fish, but they’re being a
part of something larger, which has to do with not
only He‘eia Fish Pond but just being
responsible about our resources in
Hawai‘i in general. [music] [Hi‘ilei Kawelo:]
I grew up fishing and always wondered
and looked at, how could I give back
to the resource. It’s not easy for
a fisherman to do, but the fish pond provides
us that opportunity to maybe give the ocean
a little bit of a rest and try our hand
at farming fish. [Keli‘i Kotubetey:]
In the event planes and ships
stop coming to Hawai‘i, the lessons of our kūpuna
will become extremely valuable. He‘eia Fish Pond is a place where we can teach those
types of things and realize that,
if that does happen, we have a resource such
as He‘eia Fish Pond— other fish ponds
around the state— so we can provide
for ourselves. [Keahi Tucker:]
With an active limu
business growing as well, the team at Paepae
O He‘eia has its hands full. With the help of volunteers
in the community, the group is keeping sustainable ancient
aquaculture practices alive through education,
while re-establishing an important sustainable
Hawaiian resource that can benefit
those who live here for hundreds of years to come. [music]

5 thoughts on “He’eia Fish Pond — Huaka’i ‘Āina Ho’oilina (8/10)”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *