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Alakoko - Today's view after many hours of volunteer work and mangrove removal to restore a healthy ecosystem. 


For the first time in over half a century, the Alakoko fishpond is clear of adult mangrove.  This has been made possible thanks to an enormous effort by hundreds of community volunteers and  contractors working with Mālama Hulē’ia.  We are so proud of the progress that has been made toward restoring the loko i`a.


Alakoko - Overgrown with mangrove for many decades.
Alakoko - Progress February 2019
Alakoko - Progress May 2020
Alakoko - Current view, June 2020

The outlines of the historic fishpond are now visible from the pond overlook, unobscured by the dense jungle of invasive mangrove that built up over the last 50 years.  The 900-ft long fishpond wall is now fully visible along with several acres of open water and vast mudflats that now serve as nesting and feeding areas for native ducks, stilts, moorhens and herons.

Alakoko - functioning fishpond in the in 1920's.

Much of the hand work has been done by community volunteers, including school outings and representatives of business and community groups. The monthly community work days have regularly brought dozens to the pond to clear weeds, cut and remove mangrove, and replant the cleared ground with native wetland species. Last year a group of volunteer machine operators cleared the first 10-acres of mangrove surrounding the fishpond. The remaining machine work was done with a specialized amphibious excavator made to do work in areas where a standard piece of equipment would sink into the mud. Transporting the amphibious excavator from the mainland was made possible through Matson’s generous contribution of donated shipping. “We are fortunate to have the opportunity to support Malama Huleia’s efforts to remove invasive mangroves from the Huleia National Wildlife Refuge and historic Alakoko fishpond,” said Patrick Ono, district manager, Kauai. “Matson is proud to be a part of the community effort to restore and protect this important cultural resource.”

The arrival of the Amphibious Excavator made possible through the generosity of Matson in providing transportation for the machinery from the mainland to Kaua'i.

Malama Huleia hopes to fully restore the pond to support the island’s food resilience, by improving aquatic resources that can help feed our community.

There is still so much to do to bring Alakoko back into production, but also to continue our mission of restoring the native wetlands up and down the Huleia. Many of our supporters have asked when they can get back to work on this important project. We are watching the development of our island’s COVID-19 response, and we hope to restart our community work days soon.


Menehune Crew: Mark Hubbard, Clayton Egan, Gary Hofacker, Frank Whitman, Jeff Kalani and Steve Yee.

Some of the oldest stories of Hawai`i's special "little people" take place at the Alakoko Fishpond, where some tales suggest the Menehune were called in to complete a pond wall that local residents were unable to finish. Menehune were a mythical race of powerful people who could build walls or ponds or aqueducts overnight. In some stories they were invisible, or only worked after dark, or that they were only visible to people related to them.


As Malama Hule'ia cleared the mangrove-infested pond with machinery, a small team of dedicated volunteers, the "Menehune Crew", cleared the archaeologically sensitive, historic wall, by hand using chainsaws. Since November 2018 they cleared approximately 2.5-acres exposing the Alakoko fishpond wall once again. That is truly impressive and now you know how they got their name.


Recently we have had a new "team member" on the property that is accelerating our progress in restoration capacity.  This Amphibious Excavator, designed and operated by BCI Contracting, is a custom made excavator for the specific needs and challenges of our site. More info below from Drew Porter on how and why this machine can meet the challenges we face on this unique site.

The Amphibious Excavator, a custom designed and fabricated machinery by BCI Contracting

Weight:  54,000 lbs
Reach:  50' with grapple
Fuel Consumption: 2.4 Gal/Hour 
Ground Pressure for this machine: .5 psi
Undercarriage Length: 24'
Width: 16'
Complies with Current California Emissions Standards
Clears 1 Acre/8 Hours (19.2 Gal/Acre)


This is our smallest and most efficient amphibious excavator in my firm's fleet.

The other two weigh in at 86,000 lbs (ZX200 Hitachi on a Remu Undercarriage) 2.44 psi and 142,000 lbs (Cat 330F or Cat 349F Excavator on my design) 1.6 psi.

What sets the JD 160G apart from my other two units, and for that matter pretty much all the other units built, is the combination of very low ground pressure, tremendous traction, speed and power.  The fuel efficiency is the icing on this cake.

Production is well beyond a typical long reach excavator because we designed the stick and boom in-house.  I used much lighter and stronger steel and improved the structure of the steelwork to allow us to have a product that is both substantially lighter and stronger than any current manufacturer's product.

This allows us to handle far more material with every swing of the machine without adding any additional stress on the excavator leading to very little hourly fuel consumption yet production typical with a standard dealer supplied stick and boom that only has about half the reach of our long stick and boom.

The excessively low ground pressure allows us to operate on nearly any soil condition including very soft materials.  Typically even in these soft materials we only sink a few inches into the mud.

Every once in a while we do discover a mud that we sink into making operations very exciting!

~ Drew Porter, BCI


Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March we have not had community volunteer groups to the fishpond. We sure have missed connecting with you all! The silver lining of not being able to have volunteers to the site is that it pushed us to find a way to stay connected to community, virtually enabling us to continue teaching traditional and cultural loko i`a practices. 

In May we created a  virtual huakai`i video for HI DOE Office of Hawaiian Education to share with students and staff and we want to share it with you here (~10min) . Watch our social media for the shortened versions broken out by subject including:  Aloha & Ho'omakaukau (Intro & Basic Protocol), Ka Wa Kahiko (Brief History of Place), Loko i'a (Fishponds/Fish), Mea Kanu (Plants), Na Manu (Birds), and He Laulima Mai (Moving Forward)

Virtual Huakai'i video for HI DOE Office of Education


Currently all community volunteer days have been paused until further notice due to COVID-19. We hope to be back up and running soon - stay tuned for future events.

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 © 2020 Mālama Hulē‘ia, All rights reserved.

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