Military residents, community remove invasive species at Hawaiian fishpond

Cmdr. Alapaki Gomes, assigned to U.S. Pacific Fleet, and his son help to remove trash from the Loko Pa‘aiau Fishpond. Photos by MC3 Jessica O. Blackwell

MC1 Corwin Colbert

Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

Military residents, Polynesian Voyaging Society volunteers, and members of the community, including the Ali‘i Pauahi Hawaiian Civic Club strengthened relations by continuing restoration of the Loko Pa‘aiau fishpond, Feb 17.

The native Hawaiian fishpond is one of three ancient ponds left on Pearl Harbor still relatively intact. Remnants of the pond dates back from the early 1300s to late 1400s.

These ancient shoreline ponds are said to provide sustenance for the early Hawaiian population.

Since 2014 the local and military communities have been restoring the pond while educating students, and community groups about the significance of the pond in the Hawaiian culture. The volunteers removed invasive species that had taken over the historic site for decades. They continue to replace those plants with plants native to the area.

Military members, community volunteers, members of the Ali‘i Pauahi Hawaiian Civic Club, along with crew members of the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s Hokule‘a stand together to pay homage to the land and previous generations before removing trash and invasive plant species at the Loko Pa‘aiau Fishpond, Feb. 17.

“Loko Pa‘aiau represents healing, not only of the fishpond and ‘aina (land), but the relationship between the Navy and native Hawaiians,” said archaeologist and cultural resource manager Jeff Pantaleo of Naval Facilities Engineering Command.

“It builds trust and respect for each other, and represents a bridge from the past to the future. This partnership will recreate a fully functional restored fishpond and provide educational opportunities for local children and military families to learn how ancient Hawaiians built these ponds,” he said.

“Restoring and preserving Loko Pa‘aiau and other significant sites on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH) including the native Hawaiian burial vault is a commitment to keeping the Hawaiian culture alive and flourishing.”

Sara Pollard is a resident of McGrew Point, where the pond is located. She said this is an amazing opportunity for the residents of McGrew Point to assist in restoring a vital artifact of the ancient Hawaiian culture.

David Shizuma, a community volunteer from Kaneohe, helps to remove some of the invasive plant species at the Loko Pa‘aiau Fishpond during the cleanup event.

“My daughter, Elizabeth, and I first volunteered at the last quarterly fishpond cleanup in October,” Pollard said. “I knew it would be a great way to engage her in not only giving back to her community, but also to learn more about Hawaiian culture and heritage.

“Having the fishpond in our neighborhood is so very unique. There are only two left in Pearl Harbor that could viably be restored. We feel really lucky to have the fishpond here; you can really feel the mana (power) from the ancient Hawaiians when you visit it.”

Fresh off her historic sail around Pearl Harbor aboard the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s voyaging canoe, Hokule‘a, Catherine Fuller said it is a wonderful opportunity to help restore something so important to her home.

“We’ve been going around the world doing what we call learning journeys. Our mission is to get to know people, who they are, and what they care about. It’s nice to be able to come home and do the same thing at places like the fishpond,” Fuller said.

As part of a military family, Pollard said she felt that it is very important to connect with communities wherever military families live.

“We’re hoping that as residents of McGrew that we can continue to be good stewards of the land. Hawai’i has so many rich traditions and experiences to take in while living here. Serving the community here really helps to put you in touch with the pulse of the island, connect you with locals who want to share their history, and gives you a really good feeling of belonging and accomplishment,” she said.

The next cleanup will be on April 21 at 9 a.m. in coordination with JBPHH earth month events. Volunteers are welcomed.

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Category: News