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2021 Spring Updates


At the start of the year Mālama Hulē‘ia partnered with The Trust for Public Land to help our Kaua‘i community purchase and protect Alakoko Fishpond as an outdoor classroom, native wetland habitat, a working fishpond, and one of the most cherished pieces of Kaua‘i’s history.  The Alakoko Fishpond property was listed for sale in January 2021. The Trust for Public Land is facilitating a potential conservation purchase of the property, with Mālama Hulē‘ia as the proposed future owner and steward. Over 4,400 of you signed our statement of support online and hundreds of you sent in heartfelt written testimonies in support of County Open Space funding.

Thanks to you, the County of Kaua'i’s Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation Commission unanimously voted to support using open space funds to protect and acquire the property. The Trust for Public Land is currently in negotiations with the seller and conducting real estate due diligence. We will keep you all informed about next steps and how you can continue to kākoʻo (support) Alakoko.

New & Returning Team Members 

Adding to our team and accelerating our restoration progress thanks to the Rise to Work program headed up by the County of Kauai.  Excited to welcome (from left to right)  Jason Makaneole, Punohu Kekaualua and Kaniho Giminiz. Mahalo for joining our team and supporting the vision of a healthy Huleia for future generations.

Burn Piles to Continue

In our ongoing effort to eradicate invasive species from the site, we will be continuing our burn piles this spring. These piles are the last step in eliminating mangrove so that native species can be planted and cultivated for the health and function of Alakoko. Our efforts coincide with our permit renewal from the State Dept of Health: Clean Air Branch. 


by Jan TenBruggencate

The wall at Alakoko in March 2021, free of mangrove.

The rock wall at Alakoko is a unique structure among Hawaiian fishponds, an inland pond wall structure that—for much of its length—combines an earthen berm with basalt boulders armoring on its outer river-side face, but not on the inner pond-side face. Kaua’i archaeologist William “Pila” Kikuchi in 1973 said it was the first brackish-water fishpond built in the Hawaiian Islands. He said it was alternately called Alakoko, Alekoko and Pēpēawa. . It is the largest fishpond on the island of Kaua’i, according to a 2012 report prepared by Angela I. Fa‘anunu, Margaret Magat, and Hallett H. Hammatt, of Cultural Surveys Hawaii.

In its combined mud and rock construction it is different from most known Hawaiian coastal pond walls. Those tend to be entirely made of large basalt boulders, or more commonly, basalt on both inner and outer walls, with an interior of porous `ili`ili, or small stones and pieces of coral. Below, from Kikuchi, 1973, is a cross-section view of a standard wall construction often used on the other islands, this one the Ali`i Fishpond on Molokai

Cross section from archaeologist Francis K.W. Ching in his 1973 “The Archaeology of Puna, Kaua’i,” showing possible construction type. 

A typical cross section from Kaua’i archaeologist William “Pila” Kikuchi, 1973, showing standard wall construction often used on the other islands, this one the Ali`i Fishpond on Molokai.

A 2nd potential cross section from archaeologist Francis K.W. Ching in his 1973 “The Archaeology of Puna, Kaua’i,” showing possible construction type. 

But the Alakoko wall uses a technique related to one that is common on Kaua`i, where many Hawaiian old wall structures, whether for religious structures like heiau or for border walls, are constructed of earthen berms faced on the sides and top with basalt boulders. Some say that’s because there are fewer rocks and more soil on Kaua`i, which is geologically much older than the other islands.

When Mālama Hulē’ia began the arduous work of removing the invasive, destructive mangrove overgrowth, whose roots were tearing apart the wall, certain small truths became evident. And as we suggested above, neither the cut-stone theory nor the all-rock theory holds water. One thing that is clear in the appearance of the wall is that it has been touched by many hands, by people with different theories about construction, and with access to different materials. It is a living wall that has changed over time.

An 1890 photo attributed to Theodore P. Severin shows the wall in disrepair with its eastern end broken open.

By 1912, the photo below shows that significant additional work had been done, adding new ponds at the eastern end of the wall. This photo by Ray Jerome Baker is courtesy of Bishop Museum.

At a minimum, there are historical suggestions it was started by commoners of the region, completed by skilled masons, and rebuilt over the years by workers under early chiefs. Then in the more recent period, by Chinese farmer merchants who managed the pond from the late 1800s into the 1900s and by western operators in the 1940s. Each of them would have approached the pond challenge differently, and some, notably in the 1900 period, added features like two eastern ponds that may have been used as nurseries, harvest holding ponds, or for other aquaculture related purposes.

Read the Full Article . . . 


Diagram of upcoming hydrology projects

In addition to continuing removing mangrove upstream from Alakoko, our next restoration goals focus on reconnecting the freshwater hydrology. This will bring a better balance of brackish water chemistry back to the fishpond. Projects that will accomplish this include:

Most of this work depends on partnership with the neighboring refuge.  We are excited to be building this partnership with USFWS and working on project development.



March 2021 BGCH on site for an outdoor classroom experience.

In the consorted effort to expand the village around our youth, BGCH has partnered with like-minded, community organizations such Kamehameha Schools, Malama Huleia, and Kauai Community Science Center to not only focus on one piece of educating our youth, but how to incorporate strong roots supported by scientific evidence while perpetuating the Hawaiian culture.  Youth need to identify with their surroundings, work in the soil, step in the water, watch the birds fly, calculate the impact of environmental changes to really use all senses of understanding how to positively impact change in tomorrow’s world. BGCH will support these new learning opportunities, whole heartedly, to benefit all Kauai youth.

The BGCH mission is to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. The intentions of the new partnership  “Streaming with Aloha” is to provide STEAM tools, teaching resilience, by incorporating the Aloha of the Hawaiian Culture.

~ Tina Albao
Boys and Girls Club Kauai
Kauai Director of Development & Operations

Our vision is to create a free-flowing, healthy and productive Huleia ecosystem perpetuating community pride. We do this by advocating, educating and leading community efforts to restore native wetland ecosystems, that result in an environmental stewardship program honoring Hawaiian values. To find out more about ways to support or partner in our work please contact us.


Mālama ia Hulē‘ia, Hulē‘ia ia Mālama

Take care of the Hulē‘ia, and the Hulē‘ia will take care of you

Copyright © 2021 Mālama Hulē‘ia, All rights reserved.

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