Statewide Loko I’a CoordinatorPosted by Keli'i Kotubetey on September 9, 2013
He’eia Fishpond is just one of many fishponds throughout Hawai’i, and Paepae o He’eia is just one organization within a hui of groups and practitioners working to restore the integrity and functions of traditional Hawaiian fishponds. Hui Mālama Loko I’a is a growing group of loko i’a practitioners and stewardship organizations. The Hui first gathered in 2004 to allow practitioners from 7 loko i’a to share experiences and learn from each other, and today the Hui represents 34 loko i’a and includes participation of over 100 practitioners, supporters, and students.
Over the years, the Hui has held five conference gatherings and most recently in November 2012 at Waipā, Kaua’i, people expressed interest in more formal organization for the Hui. In response to this need, Kua’āina Ulu Auamo (KUA) successfully secured funds to hire a loko i’a coordinator to support collective efforts of the Hui in the future. KUA is a 501(c)3 non-profit with a 10-year history of providing network facilitation, capacity building, and strategic support for community stewardship efforts. KUA’s primary mission is to empower communities to improve their quality of life through caring for their biocultural heritage, so KUA’s work definitely aligns with the potential future direction of Hui Mālama Loko I’a.
Brenda Asuncion has been hired to serve as the loko i’a coordinator for KUA, and her relationship with fishponds started right here in He’eia! She was a volunteer throughout college, and then she helped with Ka ‘Ai Kamaha’o internships for several years. “Everything I know and love about loko i’a literally started in He’eia. I still have so much to learn about loko i’a throughout Hawaii, and I just hope to honor these special places by revitalizing their role within our communities,” says Brenda. Over the next two years, she will be assisting with the operational structure of the Hui, facilitating gatherings and trainings, and providing support for restoration, education, and policy whenever possible.