“Ua lawa mākou i ka pōhaku, i ka ‘ai kamaha’o o ka ‘āina.” This famous phrase taken from Ellen Pendergrast’s mele ‘ai pōhaku, also known as Kaulana Nā Pua, describes the strength and resilience of the Hawaiian people.

The Ka ‘Ai Kamaha’o program aims to perpetuate this strength and resilience through various eco-cultural education projects consisting of mālama loko i’a, place-based knowledge and ecological-based studies that foster values and concepts of traditional fishpond management.

Projects engage participants, pre-school thru kūpuna (elders), in culturally relevant and academically rigorous studies aimed to bridge traditional and contemporary knowledge systems.

Charter schools

Since 2000, Paepae o He‘eia has partnered with several Hawaiian-based charter schools to engage students in rigorous science-based studies that examine the ecological life and surrounding environs of He‘eia Fishpond. By utilizing the fishpond as a classroom and lab several times a month, students develop a deeper understanding of how the fishpond works and build personal connections to this special place. The student’s work also helps to inform the management decisions that Paepae o He‘eia makes regarding restoration, fish culture, and limu culture.


UH Mānoa

The Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies at UH-Mānoa currently offers a 300-level “Malama Loko I`a” course. Meeting at He‘eia Fishpond once a week, students learn about traditional fishpond management in lectures and hands-on experiences thru the lens of papakū makawalu. This class will not be offered again until Spring 2014.

One-Time Visits

Most students who visit He‘eia Fishpond throughout the school year take part in this field trip experience which is unlike any other in the world. Each year we host over 3,000 students in this program and treat them to a walking tour of the pond, malama `āina project, and a variety of educational lessons which can be tailored to a particular class subject or teacher interests. The malama ‘āina projects give the students a feel for daily fishpond management and an opportunity to add their mana to this 800-year old pond thru restoration.


The educational lessons can be tailored to different subject areas or standards depending on the focus of the class, i.e. Hawaiian history, biology, marine science, social science, and even math or geometry. Read more to learn how to schedule a visit to He‘eia Fishpond with your class or group.

He‘eia Fishpond Research

Research collaborations and initiatives are driven by our organization’s desire to develop and improve our knowledge base about the fishpond and all that it encompasses. Subsequently, this knowledge helps to guide our management strategies and actions at He’eia Fishpond. All research proposals and activities are in alignment with Paepae o He‘eia’s management strategies and will add to our understanding of the numerous of environmental and biological interactions within the pond.

Since 2003, Paepae o He‘eia has collaborated with many organizations, faculty, students, and interns to study different aspects of He‘eia Fishpond. A few examples of research projects completed include water quality analysis, sediment chemistry analysis, native limu growth and survival trials, feather duster culture trials, impacts of invasive algae, mākāhā water flow analysis, and pond volume and turnover rate analysis.

An added facet to our fishpond research is the Laulima a ‘Ike Pono Research Internship. This collaboration between Paepae o He‘eia and the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology located at Moku o Lo’e (Coconut Island) offers a 6-month paid internship to six students focusing on the biological and geological processes in the fishpond integrated with eco-cultural knowledge and practices.

Hui Malama Loko I’a

Hui Malama Loko I’a is a grass-roots association of individuals, families, and organizations dedicated to maintaining a network of fishpond practitioners and stakeholders to share resources and educate the community about Hawaiian fishponds. Working closely with Uncle Walter Ritte of Moloka’i, our first Statewide Fishpond Consortium was held at He’eia State Park in 2004. The “Hui” was organized at that initial meeting and island-specific networks were established. Awarded a “Mo’ Bettah Together” grant from the Hawai’i Community Foundation to promote its goals and objectives, the Hui was able to gather again in 2005 at Kualoa Ranch, Oahu and in 2006 at Kalahuipua’a, Hawai`i island.

After a 5-year hiatus, the Hui regathered in March 2011 at Kalama’ula, Moloka’i with the greatest turnout to date. Over 80 individuals representing 22 fishponds participated in the 2-day conference. In addition to having facilitated discussions about the “value” of fishponds and success/challenges in restoration, participants also visited three Moloka’i fishponds to learn about and work in those ponds.

Currently, the Hui is working with state and federal agencies to improve the permitting process which can slow down or impede fishpond restoration. If you would like to learn more about this movement or help in any way, please contact us.

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