HONOLULU (KHO2N) — Before visitors enter the Loko Paaiau Fishpond, there is always an official welcome and offering to pay respects.
It’s all to ensure anyone who visits this fishpond does so, with pono intentions.
“And so we teach the children and ourselves this when we come here everytime,” said Kehaulani Lum, Alii Pauahi Hawaiian Civic Club.
This is one of only three ancient Hawaiian fishponds out of an original 22 in the Pearl Harbor area which are relatively intact. This one is located at McGrew Point Navy Housing.
“It became clear that we’re looking at the seat of government of the island of Oahu almost 500 years ago. It was the home of Kalani Manu Ia who was the queen of the entire island of Oahu,” said Lum.
Experts say fishponds like this one were made of rock or coral walls and were most likely filled with ama’ama and awa. It was a highly effective food production invention of Native Hawaiians.
“So that gives us a responsibility of stewards of that land to partner with this community. For us and for the Navy, it’s just an incredible opportunity to tie what we do and the people of Hawaii and the community and to really build that ohana,” said Capt. Darren Guenther, Navy Region Hawaii Chief of Staff.
After the Navy uncovered this fishpond, it secured funding..and five years ago, invited community members to begin restoring this once, hidden gem.
“We were able to walk in the water because we were walking on all the roots of all the mangrove plants and kiawe. there were fish on the bottom, but it was just so densely overgrown,” said Claire Tamamoto of the Aiea Community Association.
Groups have cleared those mangroves and built walkways…trying to turn this fishpond into an educational tool…while connecting ancestors and uniting different groups of people.
“We realized that the essence of this place is peace. And it becomes then, a queen’s fishpond, but a way that we relearn to live together in harmony,” said Lum.
The next step is to build a hale where sailors, community groups and keiki can gather, to learn more about this historical and cultural treasure.
“I’ve never heard of this before. I’ve served all over the world with the U.S. Navy. I’ve never seen something like this.”