Photos: Courtesy of Rae Huo
The Waikalua Loko Fishpond Preservation Society, a nonprofit organization, that has managed the pond since 1995 received a Preservation Commendation Award at the 2011 Preservation Honor Awards for their preservation and cultural education efforts.
LISTED AS ENDANGERED IN 2010
Article Written By: Jenny Quill, HONOLULU Magazine
What is it?
Waikalua Loko is one of the few remaining intact ancient Hawaiian fishponds in the state. Located in Kāne‘ohe Bay, the approximately 400-year-old fishpond exemplifies the ancient Hawaiians’ skillful management of natural resources. The Waikalua Loko Fishpond Preservation Society, a nonprofit organization, has managed the pond since 1995, working to eradicate invasive mangrove and maintain the pond’s kuapā (wall) and mākāhā (gates), work done strictly by volunteers. “Since we began,” says Herb Lee, executive director of the Pacific American Foundation (PAF) and one of the founders of the preservation society, “we’ve had tens of thousands of people come down to help.”
What threatens it?
The fishpond is located on property that is part of the Bay View Golf Course, which recently went into foreclosure. “The cultural, educational and restoration activities are threatened by the uncertain priorities of new landowners who may prefer to develop the property rather than restore a fishpond,” says Hal Hammatt, the president and principal investigator for Cultural Surveys Hawai‘i.
Then there’s the small matter of the proposed Kāne‘ohe sewer upgrades project. “The fishpond itself will not be impacted by this project,” says Department of Environmental Services director Tim Steinberger. “Parking associated with the fishpond, however, will be impacted during construction. The city will be working with various community organizations during preparation of the draft EIS to address the parking issue, and is already working with stakeholder agencies and representatives from the Kāne‘ohe and Kailua areas, including the Pacific American Foundation, which oversees the fishpond.” Losing the parking area for an undetermined amount of time will impact the “momentum of volunteers,” says Lee, hindering the society’s ability to perform much-needed regular maintenance on the pond.
What can be done?
One option is to seek subdivision of the property. According to Lee, the Pacific American Foundation, along with Windward Community College and the Hawai‘i Institute for Marine Biology, have applied for, and received, a HUD grant that’s reserved for higher-education institutions serving Native Hawaiians and their communities. The grant identified approximately 19-plus acres, including 12 acres of water and 7 acres of surrounding land, giving the Pacific American Foundation the necessary monies to purchase the plot on which the pond resides. Unfortunately, the property is not subdivided, and the group cannot afford to purchase the golf course in its entirety. When we contacted Central Pacific Bank, the golf course’s current owner, chief marketing officer Wayne Kirihara informed us that the bank had just received the title to the property and that they would “need to get their arms around all of the moving parts before a sales strategy could be developed.”